I’m setting out on a journey from the city of Toronto to the state of Tennessee.
The wind whips ice pellets against my face. The tem­perature is well below zero. I don’t want to check how far below, or I’ll lose my nerve. I have little enough as it is.
I’m going to visit my daughter, Rebecca, in her Amish community in the wilds of Tennessee. OK, not quite the wilds. It’s a farming community somewhere between Chattanooga and Knoxville. I figure if I can find it, hidden away from civilization, it will count as one Brownie point for modern navigation devices (like maps), a second for common sense, and maybe a third for prayer. I take a bor­rowed cell phone, in case of emergencies. You can never be too careful (or so I’ve been told).
The people there don’t use electricity or telephones or cars. The modern conveniences are much too modern for them. My father says, “I came from the Old Country to make a better life. And now my granddaughter goes back to the shtetl.” He shakes his head in puzzlement. I groan inside. I don’t understand Rebecca’s choices any better than he does.
The snow covers the frozen ground like a gigantic white tallis. Should I pray? Will it help? It’s supposed to be safer to drive on a divided highway; it’s not safer to have a divided family. I head out in the hope that my fam­ily might become a little less broken. This is my third trip to visit Rebecca. Perhaps three is a lucky number. Lately I have begun grasping at straws.