Thursday, September 1, 2016

I raise my eyes to the mountains, from where comes my support?! (Tehilim/Psalms 121)

We just returned from an absolutely amazing week in Arizona. We used the excuse (or legitimate reason?) of taking our son Brian back to Northern Arizona University, where he is a student, to spend some time in Sedona and the Grand Canyon, two places about which too many people have said “You just have to go there.” So being the obedient child I am, we went!

To be in the presence of the mountains and the terrain that defines that area is truly awe inspiring to the highest degree. I never cease to be amazed by G-d’s artistry. As everyone kept stating that these are natural phenomena, I saw intricate designs and artistic effects everywhere and the references to G-d as the one who fashions, who is the potter, who is the crafter, etc. that we will state several times in the upcoming High Holiday liturgy just kept going through my mind. G-d is truly the most magnificent artisan of all and we are privileged to live as the beneficiaries of this magnificent work. But, too often, people forget that. Spending some time in either of these amazing locales cannot help but remind us. Yes, G-d did create the Heavens and the Earth, and as the clouds, stars, mountains and sunset and sunrise all meld together, it is so clear that the firmaments are there as well!

I remember a few years ago when we were in Boulder, Colorado, also being considered by our son for his college years, I had the same feeling. Wherever you walk, you see mountains, clear skies and generally calm people. As a person with my learning disability of DDD (Directionality Deficit Disorder) there was another benefit. Directions like “walk with the mountains, towards the mountains or away from that mountain range” actually worked… I felt much more grounded, pun perhaps intended! At any rate, I asked one person why the people are so different as I experienced personally that Western USA phenomenon that I knew intellectually exists. The answer I received was as clear as the air, “You see,” said the young man, “when you live alongside the mountains and not sky scrapers and buildings that are the result of human architecture, but rather natural architecture, there is much less hubris.” The quote is probably not exact with the passage of time, but pretty close… and it has definitely stayed with me.

People are different there, really they are nice, they stop to say hi to total strangers and conversations are easy to begin in random places with random people. The pace is different and so appreciated by this resident of the generally hyper Northeastern part of the United States. I totally GET why Brian loves that pace of life in that place and space; it is quite intoxicating in a wonderful way.

One of the topics that I have explored in my own learning and teaching and sharing is that of our connection to the Environment in which we live. We spent time with people who refer to the Grand Canyon as Mother Earth; we use the phrase in Hebrew IMA ADAMAH, and just yesterday I was spending yet another day learning about Native Americans and other peoples on a Museum date with a really close friend (yes JS that’s you!) and saw the French expression MERE TERRE…. The earth is truly our mother and the Creater of All parented her if we think of bringing together our faith traditions and the reality of the land that we way too often ignore.

I am beyond happy as a mom that our son has found his, as one of the locals had put it in January when we first took him there, his “happy place.” But to be honest and a little selfish, Brian, I am so glad that we now have a reason (not an excuse) to continue to come visit (not too much, I promise!) you and spend time in what many people call G-d’s country in which one indeed looks to the mountains for our source, our understanding of so much that is bigger than us and more. For me that is exactly what it is!

As for the rest of us, really YOU HAVE TO GO TO SEDONA and to the GRAND CANYON. And no, I am NOT getting any commission from any tourist bureau for saying so!

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