Monday, June 16, 2008

My Weekend: Hide and Seek


I stayed in a campground near a lake, with a really nice trail that goes around the lake.  There was also a trail that went about a quarter mile to a nearby Veterans' Memorial.
The first time I took that trail, it was on a whim.  I was walking the dog, and I figured it would be as good a place as any to spend some energy.  When I got there, I found that there had been significant improvements to the area.  The parks system had built a scenic outlook toward Denali. And not only that, but the mountain was visible, and it was stunning.  There were clouds on either side of the two peaks, and another nestled below, at about the level of the surrounding mountains.  It made Denali look all the more impressive and mysterious.  One of the other people at the outlook said it looked like a ghost, and I wouldn't disagree.  Another person gestured to the mountains flanking Denali and pointed out that, at more than 17,000 feet, they would be imposing anywhere else in the world, except next to that particular peak.  And it's true.  I found myself drawn to that outlook; the dog and I walked there several more times, each time hoping to see the mountain again.  We didn't get the chance; it was always hidden by clouds.

It made me think about how wonderful Shabbat time is, that I was able to just drop everything and go for a hike.  I realized that I had spent the bulk of my weekend seeking, whether I was seeking a view that few people are blessed to see, seeking a nice rock to rest on, or seeking G-d.

I also started reading a really great book called Ecology and the Jewish Spirit by Ellen Bernstein.  So far, I'm through the first section, which is a series of essays about Sacred Place.  One of them talks about how Shabbat is similar to being in the wilderness, because of the way you're freed from clock-based time, instead depending on the sun and stars to tell you when to light your candles.  The big difference is that Shabbat ends with havdallah, but that there is no ritual to end your time in the wilderness.  The author of that essay (whose name escapes me now) said that's why s/he often feels sad when returning to normal life, which is pretty true.

I also realized that I've always had a ritual for ending my outdoor time.  A shower.  But not just any shower.  One that delights in the luxury of warm, running water and the feel of it on my skin.  One with a soap that's different from the one I used at camp, one that smells fresh and clean.  When I thought about it in my post-camping shower this time, I realized how similar it is to the havdallah ritual in its use of my senses, especially the smelling and the warmth.

1 comment:

zahavalaska said...

I've been to that campground and I really liked it, too...