Footprints in the sand

The path in the sand stretches out endlessly before me. Unknown but beckoning. What footprints will be left in it?

Dr. Devorah Ungar ,

Halutza sand dunes in Southern Israel
Halutza sand dunes in Southern Israel
Flash 90

“I fall into a deep sleep

and arrive walking barefoot

in the hot sand.

The sun is beating

hard above

and I wish

I knew where I was going.”
(Rachel Moser, age 14)


This morning, for the first time in a long time, I went to the sea-shore. An early morning haze, the hint of a glow in the sky. I gaze in wonder and disbelief at the waves rolling, incessantly.

Yes, the sun is still shining, the waves are still rolling in towards the shore. The power and eternal timelessness of the ocean. The shells swept up onto the sand have grown in number, undisturbed for some time now. Surprising, how the life of nature continues irrespective of what is occurring in the world of Man. Did not the tide ebb and flow unceasingly throughout this period in our lives?

Our personal lives, and the lives of our country, are mirrored in the ocean. The ocean, at once calm and timeless, but at the same time turbulent and ever-changing. Marked by its forward direction, the rise and fall of waves progressing towards eternity.

We have been through a year of turmoil, of disbelief. When life as we once knew it was so radically changed. A time in which life was put on hold, and we were given the time to ponder, to consider and reevaluate what is important to us, as individuals, and as a nation. We stop in our tracks, just look around.

How did we arrive here? How is it that I am standing here this morning, sun in my eyes, the roar of waves, a feeling of permanence mixed with change, as the ground under my feet is pulled back into the ocean, only to reappear.

and in the wilderness, where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you traveled until you came to this place.” (Deuteronomy 1:31)

Upon awakening this morning, as every morning, I looked outside the window.

Heavens aglow with hues of pink, gold, orange and peach, in the early morning wonder and promise of life. The lovely flowers in a glorious array of colors.

Did this scene not continue for the past year? In all its glory and splendor?
And the birds, singing in the early morning praise of life. Their ease of flight. Black wings soaring effortlessly against a brightening sky. Did I not watch this familiar scene now for the past year?

The flow of nature, which seems to continue in its power and magnificence, irrespective of the joys and sorrows of Man.

As the flow of time. Eternal, unceasing.

And I wonder.

A reminder of the fragility of Man. And a call to us, to take our place in the scheme of life.

What is our Divine Role in this World? As individuals, as a Nation?

There are occurrences in the path of one's life, in the life of the country, in which one pauses for a moment. As if life has been put on hold, temporarily suspended. One gazes about at a new reality.

Life, in its forward motion is constantly changing, as the shoreline, receding and changing with the waves. As the waves, changing as they meet the shore. Life in its perpetual motion.

I look back.

There are my footprints, clearly outlined in the sand. In the path which I had just walked. In the path which we have just tred, as a Nation.

The steps which led us to where we are today. The steps taken in wisdom and courage, strength and faith. I stand today in freedom by the shore, in the Promised Land, marveling at the wonder and holiness of Creation, the blessedness of our existence. The eternal blessing which is promised to Our Nation.

I look ahead.

The path in the sand stretches out endlessly before me. Unknown but beckoning.

The sand ahead of me is smooth, unruffled. Perhaps rolled over during night as we slept, as life has been rolled over during this long year of Life-on-Hold. The footprints of those who came before are no longer visible on the surface. Neither their thoughts nor their pain, nor the wrappings of bamba of their children, nor the empty discarded bottles of joy and sorrow.

But the efforts, the hopes, the dreams, the greatness of those who walked before, form the basis of this path. Which now appears as a call to the unknown. A hope, a challenge, a possibility. The horizon calling to continue the journey, to set out upon the path towards the future.

I think of the Night. In front of my eyes was the darkness, a foreboding, heavy gloom. Black, with but a faint glimpse of white. The faint glow of the moon, the distant twinkling of stars, the eery brightness of a few street lamps, providing but a memory, a hope of light.

And yet. In the early morning I awoke to find black and white transformed, as if by a magic wand. In the dawning light, faint colors were seen from my window. The sky a pale blue. The starkness of the white moon replaced by the warm sunny glow of sunshine. The gloomy outlines of dark black treetops were revealed to be green tips, merrily waving to me outside the window, as birds gaily soared overhead. A heavenly touch had replaced black and white with the wonder of color, enhancing in intensity as I watched. The promise of divine salvation and protection, which accompanies us individually, and as a nation.

“If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:8-10)

At every stage in life, at every occurrence we are faced with in our lives, the question may be asked.

The future is ours to reaffirm, to cherish and exalt. The path is in our view.

And where is our country going, now?

What footprints will we leave in the sands of tomorrow?


Dr. Devorah Ungar is an American-born scientist and musician.who moved to Israel 30 years ago.















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