“Does the day’s long journey take the whole long day?”
“From morn to night, my friend.”
This poem by Christina Rossetti has often given me encouragement to keep stepping onward and upward on my own life’s journey. Just recently, Rossetti’s poem came to mind again— when I noticed that many Cladach book titles allude to various aspects and dimensions of this journey called ‘life.’
On that up-hill road, we often WALK:
As we walk, we will inevitably need to TRUST:
We may need to RUN (from SHAME and toward LOVE):
Our journey may lead to ESCAPE:
We may have to release and LEAVE BEHIND:
Our journey will be fraught with DANGERS:
Our journey will involve SEARCHING and finding:
We will COME to oases that bid us to STAY awhile and CELEBRATE:
The journey provides stretches of solitude for pondering and REMEMBERING:
The journey includes places for PAUSING, letting others pass, and finding renewed perspective:
Judy is an American-born Israeli Jewish Christian. From their home and ministry in Eilat, Israel, she and her husband, John, have a unique perspective on the Middle East—and the world—especially because thousands of travelers stay in their hostel (The Shelter) each year. And because the Pexes are “Trail Angels” who help people who are walking the 600-mile Israel National Trail. Judy wrote a book (Walk the Land) about her and John’s experience of walking the famous and challenging Trail from one end of Israel to the other.
Here’s one experience Judy shared in a recent update:
“Last night John and I slept out at a camp site on the Israel Trail. In the morning we met a group with 50 participants called ‘Walk about Love.’ They enable people to do the Trail by providing meals and taking their bags from camp to camp. One of the women, a Reform Jewish rabbi, from New York City [in the picture above with Judy] immediately recognized me from Walk the Land, and very excitedly told me she had read my book and wanted a picture with me. Another woman was eager to have a copy in Hebrew. The organizers of the group knew the Shelter. … In preparing for her trip she came across my book on one of the sites and ordered it on Amazon. She used a Yiddish word to mean “preordained” when she realized she was meeting the author.”
And here’s another recent experience Judy had, this time at The Shelter:
“A tour group with 25 people from New Zealand led by a couple we know and guided by a friend of ours came to the Shelter today to hear about the work here and we sold fourteen books, a mixture of all three books.”
Judy receives emails from readers all over the world who have read her book(s). Here are examples of recent messages she has received and shared with me:
“I have just enjoyed reading your book “Walk the Land.” It was lent to me by Astrid and Craig who are friends at our church and who met at your Hostel and were saved through your ministry. Like Astrid I am Jewish, in fact I am a child survivor of the holocaust.”
–(a reader in Australia)
“Shalom Judy. I am currently reading your book Come Stay Celebrate. I’m only on chapter 9 and I can’t put it down. Your stories have reminded me of when I first believed in Jesus in 1986. How my life changed and how exciting it was to learn and grow. It’s created a hunger in me to keep learning and growing! Thank you for writing this book and sharing your faith and leading so many to Jesus!!”
God said to Abraham, “Rise, and walk the land.” (Genesis 13:17)
What better way to become acquainted with the rocks, the dust, the fauna, the flora, the smells, the tastes, the changing colors than to stand in it, walk on it, be sheltered at night by it, rest your body upon it? To let your eyes gaze upon the painted vistas then search for trail signs and footholds to cross a river? To breathe the air upon chilly mountains, over silent deserts, and in redolent valleys?
John and Judy Pex did all this as middle-aged hikers who live in Israel—one as a descendant of Abraham and both as believers in the God of Abraham and his promised seed, Jesus the Messiah.
They walked where Jesus walked and “came away to a quiet place” as he did. They met various people groups who inhabit the land and for whose salvation Jesus gave his life. Judy kept a record of their trek over the 600-mile Israel Trail—what they saw, the people they met, and the insights they received. Then Cladach helped them share this experience with people around the earth through the book, Walk the Land : A Journey on Foot through Israel.
In a sense, a travel memoir is a gift to those who would love to go but probably never will. I enjoyed editing and designing this book and experiencing the varied land and people groups along the Israel Trail, vicariously. Here are a few of my favorite photos from Walk the Land by Judith Galblum Pex.
John walking the Carbolet
Nahal Raham, beginning to rain
Mt. Hermon from a ridge above Kiryat Shmona
John and Judy walked the entire Israel Trail from the Egyptian to the Lebanese borders!
I received an email from someone who casually commented that Cladach is a “boutique publisher.” That struck me as a fitting descriptor of what we hope to offer to our authors, customers and readers.
What does the word “boutique” bring to your mind?
These words come to my mind: Unique, Hand-picked, Entrepreneurial, Personal, Artsy.
In my mind I picture many of the shops I’ve walked into while sightseeing and browsing in charming, coastal and mountain towns. These places offer something that WalMart, as predictable and cheap as it may be, can’t. As you step in the welcoming entrance, all the senses are soon pleased. You breathe the aroma of potpourri, and you’re enticed by complimentary samples of coffee, herbal tea, or truffles. Beautiful music plays unobtrusively in the background. Color, artfully arranged merchandise draws your eye and causes you to “oooh” and “ahhhhh.” You feel a sense of appreciation for the evident care that went into selecting the articles of clothing, gift items, handmade pottery, and other specialty items. You assume this boutique shop is an expression of the owner’s taste, and if you find their style appealing, you have a sense that you can trust their choices of items offered. You may think, “I’m glad I could experience this place! I want to take something home with me to remember my stop in this little town,” or perhaps, “I want to buy something to take back to my friend or family member, just to share a bit of this experience with them.” You may find the items offered so unique that you feel you must buy something, because you may regret it later when you are unable to find this particular, pleasing item again. The shop owner, who may even live upstairs, engages you in conversation. When you complete your purchase and walk back out onto the sidewalk with a custom-printed bag in tow, you have a smile on your face and a spring in your step.
Cladach is a boutique publisher in the sense that we want to offer an alternative to over-hyped, mass-produced, predictable books that cram the catalogs and warehouses of huge publishing conglomerates. We are picky and look for style that is artful, content that is meaningful and might give you an experience outside the box. We can offer ingenious, personal, one-of-a-kind books by authors both “down home” local and fascinatingly cosmopolitan. We can try new trends without being faddish. Quality matters to us and reflects our personal convictions. We hope our books give you an opportunity to step off the trafficky, noisy street and breathe deeply of heavenly scents; taste morsels of beauty, goodness, and truth; and find delightful, soul-lifting discoveries.
We were shivering in our ski jackets on the beach that cold January day as I walked a stretch of the Connecticut coast with my son, David, and his family. A shrub-lined, curving trail took us over a hill and down upon a tumble of boulders, where we met an unexpected sight: a fit young man was bouncing his seat-less bike from one precarious, precipitous perch to another.
We stopped and stared. He was focused, concentrating, balancing with grace on giant, formidable rocks. To the music of salty wind, lapping waves, laughing children, and calling gulls, he worked silently.
David continued up the trail, with binoculars, intent on birding. The children searched for seashells and driftwood in the sand. My daughter-in-law, Hannah, and I stood watching the cyclist.
He hopped off his bike and looked our way. Hannah called to him, “Are you training for something?”
“To be a better man!” he answered without hesitation.
Hannah blinked. Then she said, “God bless you!”
“I’m a stuntman,” he explained. “Just came out here to practice.”
He returned to his strength, agility, and balancing-act. Hannah and I enjoyed the show a few moments longer then hurried to catch up with the family. But the image of someone accomplishing what seemed impossible—with apparent ease and grace—stayed with me.
Like my grandchildren, since childhood I’ve loved exploring beaches, forests, rivers and meadows. In those places my imagination soared. If I had a book with me, all the better. Good stories opened a world of possibilities. I dreamed of writing a book. But to my child mind that seemed impossible. How could anyone choose and balance and fit together so perfectly that many words, make characters and places come alive, create meaning so believable and absorbing?
To me such a process held as much mystery as the thought of God creating the flowers in the meadow and the fish in the creek. But God does. And people do … create stories and poems and write books.
Life taught me, just as the stuntman on the boulders had no doubt learned, that creative achievement requires diligence, work, and passion.
The time came when I was preparing my first book for publication. It felt like trying to balance two narrow wheels on rugged, slippery boulders. I felt dizzy with inadequacy. One night, as deadlines approached, I cried to my husband, “This is too hard.” He just hugged me and prayed for me.
Next morning I woke with new courage. The book came to be and has found readers—opening windows of possibilities in minds and hearts around the world.
The stuntman probably started working his bike on the pebbly beach and the winding, uneven trail before he tried to mount and negotiate boulders. Similarly, if you have the passion and the vision, then the steps to carry out that vision will come clear. Maybe not all at once or as easily and quickly as you would like; but the path will open to you and the grace will come, as you practice, learn, and keep trying.
Along the way you will have the opportunity to pursue an even greater purpose. Like the stuntman on the beach, you can say, “Yes, I’m in training—to be a better person” … a person who listens to the wind, takes time to dream, to watch birds and collect seashells, and to speak and write from the heart.