Let Nature Guide You Into a New Year

Let Nature Guide You Into a New Year

I treasure the late summer, just before the Jewish New Year, as a wonderful time to get out in nature, and I relate it to a Hasidic teaching. “The King is in the Field,” is a parable of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), founder of Chabad Hasidism. He likened Rosh Hashanah and the Awesome Days  through Yom Kippur to a time when a king is in the palace and it is very formal act to approach the throne.. But when the king is traveling to the palace anyone can approach him as he travels through the fields.

(more…)

Finding a Sanctuary in Nature

Finding a Sanctuary in Nature

After the drama of the ten plagues, the splitting of the Red Sea, and receiving the Torah at Sinai, the Biblical book of Exodus turns to what seems a much more mundane subject: building the first Jewish temple, a portable sanctuary known as the Mishkan. Where do we find such sanctuary today?

(more…)

A Guide’s Perspective: Encounters With Birds

A Guide’s Perspective: Encounters With Birds

When I get too wrapped up in my merely human concerns, all I need to do is to look outside my window or take a walk in the park to enter a different world, the world of birds that surround us everywhere.  (In fact, I hear them chirping as I write this post). Here are a few of my favorite recent moments when I opened my eyes and ears to birds.

(more…)

The Moon, Jewish Time, and Renewal

The Moon, Jewish Time, and Renewal

הַחֹ֧דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֛ה לָכֶ֖ם רֹ֣אשׁ חֳדָשִׁ֑ים רִאשׁ֥וֹן הוּא֙ לָכֶ֔ם לְחָדְשֵׁ֖י הַשָּׁנָֽה׃

This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you.

Exodus 12:1 (more…)

Living in the Season

Living in the Season

Seasons are very different in each of the places I have lived. In South Texas, a short spring quickly stretches into a long, hot, heavy summer, followed by a pleasant fall and mild winter. (more…)

Seasons of Life

Seasons of Life

In addition to affirming the goodness of seasonal rhythms, the Bible also affirms the seasonal rhythms of human life, as in the well known section of Kohelet / Ecclesiastes:

There is a season for everything, and a time for every desired purpose under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3          לַכֹּ֖ל זְמָ֑ן וְעֵ֥ת לְכָל־חֵ֖פֶץ תַּ֥חַת הַשָּׁמָֽיִם׃

(more…)

Noah’s Skylight: When Things are Dark, Allow In a Little Light

Noah’s Skylight: When Things are Dark, Allow In a Little Light

I love watching the interplay of light filtered through green leaves onto water, the sparkling diamonds of light on the gurgling stream. Light can only be appreciated as it balances and plays with darkness, with shadow.Our lives, too, have periods of light and dark. We go through dark moods of sadness, the valleys of the shadow (Psalm 23), the dark night of the soul.

(more…)

Light in Jerusalem

Light in Jerusalem

Something about the atmosphere in Jerusalem makes me feel like my feet aren’t quite touching the ground, even when my sandals are covered with dust. If people are not looking I find it hard to resist the desire to take off with a few dancing steps. Maybe it’s the constant scent of pine trees, or the mountain air “clear as wine.” Perhaps it is the beauty of light dancing on stones or shimmering on olive bark.

(more…)