We must nourish the body and also the soul. That’s what Shabbat is for, to nourish the soul. – Rabbi Meltzer, Ohr Shalom Synagogue, San Diego
People streamed into night-dark Balboa Park for Holiday Lights, twinkling strings of festive lights decorating the view from ground to sky. Museums opened their doors. Vendors offered food and trinkets. Children sang on platform stages.
Then, we walked through the night to Ohr Shalom Synagogue, for Kabbalat Shabbat services, and I have to say, I’ve never felt more welcome in a synagogue anywhere else. The small congregation gathered for services sang our way through the Friday night prayers and then we listened to rabbi speak about what we can learn from Jewish “rebels,” this sermon focused on Elisha Ben Abbuya from the Talmudic period.
I woke at 5:30 this morning, still on Eastern time, and waited until hunger gnawed at my stomach and propelled me to walk a half-mile in the dawn to Hob Nob Hill Restaurant for the most pleasant breakfast of veggie-filled omelet, coffee and spiced apples.
And on the walk home, where nothing remarkable came across my path, I was overjoyed to see morning in San Diego.
The brightness of the sun whitening the sky. The quiet of the streets, still under sleepful watch. The smell of warm and desert and climate which to me is the scent of vacation, reminding me how lucky I am to have it dance at my nostrils.
Back home, I’d be burrowed in layers, the radiators in my old house hissing to keep us all warm. Here, I pull the hotel window open wide, welcoming in the mild morning air.
San Diegans are cold, mind you. Last night, a woman ushered us all into the heated bathroom to stay warm and I laughed. This is not cold. This is exhilaration.
Perhaps it’s the excitement of travel, or maybe it’s the friendliness of this place. And I do think the friendliness has a lot to do with the climate. Sunshine and outdoor living promotes connection. The cold keeps us all burrowed inside, hunched into ourselves.
Is that why the synagogue members were so friendly here? Southern California welcome? I hate to think a cold Michigan climate equals cold-hearted living.
And yet, this morning, it’s as if I am above the clouds, hyped in my step and eager to immerse in the bright, light day.
Two yoga classes ahead – vinyasa at 8:30, Kundalini at 10. A meeting on PR with Karma Yoga staff at 1, followed by a meet-up with lovely friends. Ending the day with a potluck dinner back at the studio, to learn more about this business so we can build it.
We must nourish the soul as we nourish the body, and taking a day to rest, to stop, to sit, to listen, to sing the prayers is as important as the spinach in the omelet. Walking along the streets. Breathing in the sun-lit air.
Inhaling the salty ocean waves from the pier because it’s there and we realize that the water sustains us, gives us life, encourages us to keep going, as it regenerates with every wave.