I’ve been quiet this past week, as my family and I traversed the elevations and trails of Colorado. We went to elevate ourselves spiritually, before and in celebration of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and I am as ever reaffirmed that we must go away in order to come back.
The week was spectacular. The reason for Colorado, other than my extreme love of that state and its terrain and towns and people, was for a new year program with the Adventure Rabbi, Jamie Korngold. I’ve always been a dedicated Jew, but somehow, despite my adoration of the collective communal voice singing in the sanctuary, services are lost on me.
Either they’re too long in more traditional congregations or too short and easy in more liberal ones. My political and spiritual leanings are surely liberal, but then I appreciate and warm to the traditional melodies, tunes and peace of observance. I endure a constant conflict in my preference for religious observance – but my beliefs never waver.
And so I sought a new year on the side of a mountain, with the blast of the shofar (ram’s horn) against the quaking aspens and canyon echo. It was all I’d hoped for – and more.
Despite the fact that I was in the Emergency Room of the Granby Hospital with my feverish daughter one morning (she is on the mend). Despite my eldest son’s extreme reaction to the thin air at the top of Pike’s Peak (he’s OK). Despite a more than two-hour delay for our return flight last night. Despite any bumps in the itinerary, it was a fantastic trip.
There was so much I found I wanted to say all week but I never blogged and didn’t even jot notes in my journal. I wanted to just be in the moment, every moment, breathe in the spectacularly clear air, watch the elements change from bright sun to snow flurries back to bright sun.
There was also a huge power in being disconnected. Yes, I checked email and I did have my iPhone on most of the time. But there was one day at least, when it was shut off and left behind in the hotel room for a reason. To simply be in nature, to exist for the sake of existence, to experience the here and now, it’s something I’m afraid very few of us ever have in the day-to-day of our very busy, very connected, very hyper-important (but not really) world.
I was so tempted to continue like that – shut out the world, keep it all quiet, just walk through the minutes and the hours to my own rhythm. But our work lives won’t allow that, will they?
At some point, I either have to return to the world as we know it or admit that I’ve abandoned modernity for quiet and peace in a mountainside town. And I’m just not ready to do that, at least not yet.
But I considered it. If I could do anything…I do believe I’d move out west and opt for a simpler life.
And then I returned home to my beloved Michigan and welcomed the moist air, the chill night, slept with my window open to the highway silence. The pillows on my bed are just right, the covers, the mattress – there is something to be said for coming home.
I’ve come to the conclusion that we need a combination of escape and routine, not in equal parts, but in frequency. And perhaps the perspective gained during an adventure like the one we just had can change life-as-we-know-it for the better.
So what will I change in the day-to-day to make it more here-and-now?
More quiet time, more time in nature.
Say no a little more, fret a little less.
Accept that my definition of Judaism is different from the institutional Jewish world.
Celebrate that I find my best spirituality among nature – and incorporate that into my observances.
Ironically, being at a Reform, nature-focused Rosh Hashanah program made me want to celebrate the Sabbath more traditionally – separate from the loudness of the modern world, contemplate in the sanctity of a day of rest.
No rigidity, no rules, no parameters of steadfast time. My way, inspired by ancient traditions. Isn’t that what we’re all here to accomplish?