Letting the Thing Be the Thing

Man Writing Notes on wooden tableI wake up, start my day, and stream into being, without writing a blog. All day, I am acutely aware that this is yet another day that I have not written a blog and I think, hard, about what to say, how to spin words to MEAN something and my mind remains empty, vacant, a beautiful black hole.

When I was traveling, I had an excuse. I’m busy, I told myself, seeing things, going places, being with my beautiful children.

Then I came home and the excuse was jet lag and getting back to reality. And when those things were over and I was fully in my routine, it was the warm air, so unseasonable for December in Michigan, and the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and yes, being with my children at home, and the holiday of Hanukkah, when we bring light into darkness and all of its incredible metaphors.

Weeks pass. I don’t put fingers to keyboard or pen to paper. I can’t think of anything interesting or inspiring to write so why bother?

And then, as I sat in the rabbi’s study today, talking and catching up, about Israel, about different states of being Jew, about the ways in which people like each other and hate each other and vie for control when really there IS no control, only the illusion of it, and he says, “Why can’t the thing just be the thing?”

As in, don’t observe the Sabbath because it will bring you closer to the Messiah or the World to Come. Observe the Sabbath to Observe the Sabbath. Let the thing be the thing.

Take a walk in the woods, like I did last weekend, with my lovely husband and two of my energetic kids, and let it be a walk in the woods. Not a bonding experience or a way to get exercise or a family outing. It’s a walk in the woods.

Autumn-forest-rays-of-light-road-000058720686_LargeAnd we did walk along the leaf-strewn paths. With the trees bare, you can see so much farther. We ran down along the woodchip-covered path, downhill, which as you know, makes you go faster, you get this momentum of the downhill trajectory where suddenly you’re propelled into going faster than you ever really could on a flat surface.

Shaya and Grace and I were running just to run, and laughing, which echoed against the bare trees. At the end, as the path leveled out, there was a mud puddle flowing over from the swampy lagoon just beyond the path, and with his rain boots on, Shaya wanted to blaze right through it. Grace didn’t and she pulled him away from the mud and for a second, you could feel his disappointment register in the breeze.

We went up hills and down them and peered over into a flowing river and the kids talked about how cold it might be if they were to jump in because it was so unseasonably warm. Still. The water would be cold. So they did not jump.

And on the way back up the hilly path, a woman and her camera-bearing son were stopped at the side of the path, motioning one finger to their laps to quiet us. The woman pointed into the brush.

The deer, a young buck, stood not too far away but not too close, close enough to see his flank move in and out with each breath. Close enough to see his wide eyes and growing rack and watch his head dip down to munch on wild grasses and then up again to peer off into the distance.

Did he see us? If he did, he wasn’t scared. But I’m not sure how far deer can see into the distance. I’m betting they rely more on their sense of hearing to gauge safety.

When we got back to the car, there was no need to deconstruct our outing or talk at all, really. We drove to pick up Eliana at a friend’s house and listened to her chatter on the drive back about how great the afternoon had been among friends. Asher was home with a friend of his own.

The thing was just the thing. It’s a beautiful day to walk in the woods, so we do.

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