I am just back from a month of vacation. We went camping in the woods. Just my husband Seth and myself. Over the four weeks, we camped at Silver Falls in Oregon, up by Salt Creek on the Olympic Peninsula, on Lopez Island, and along the Columbia Gorge at Beacon Rock. Each spot, each temporary home, brought new sounds, smells, and wonders. Each spot felt like a sanctuary. Dappled sunlight filled our days as we hiked and read and simply sat under the Pines and Cedars, Willows, and Oak of the PNW. We slowed way down.
Our forests are glorious. Many of them are new. Over the last 100 years, they have been decimated and reborn. The cities and industries of the PNW were built with the timber of ancient trees, old growth. Only every now and then did Seth and I see an old tree during our many hikes. A really old one that survived for some reason. We could see the char on her bark from fires, the places where she was wounded and healed in her bumps and lumps along her trunk. We could feel her strong roots under our feet. Creating a special kind of unevenness underfoot. Gnarly. A gnarly unevenness. We would stop and notice and honor those trees during our hikes.
There is something wise about an old tree. She has seen things. That is the magic of the forest, the woods, for me. They have survived. They have been ravaged. They have regrown. They hum with life. And to simply sit and be a part of it all, the bigness, complexity, and harmony of it all, can be transcendent. Out of time and space. Eternal. Which is an important understanding of Divinity within Jewish thought. God is, was, and forever be. God = Eternal. Never-ending.
The woods are a sanctuary. A natural sanctuary for humans. We are blessed here in Washington State to live close to nature. We find forests all around us.
This Shabbat we are taking our celebration to the woods. We will be gathering to honor the day of rest, to honor our own labor and our own need for rest, to honor our people, our tribe, and maintain the wisdom they have passed to us. To connect, with each other, ourselves and Eternity/ God.
Friday will meet at 5 pm at Saint Edwards State Park. More info provided upon registration.
Bring your own dinner and a little something to share if you feel so moved.
We will welcome Shabbat together under the trees with a meal and then at 6:30 pm we will begin our Kabbalat Shabbat in the Woods Experience which will last around an hour.
This Saturday morning families and people of all ages will join at Saint Edward's State Park for an eco-spiritual Shabbat program. More info provided upon registration.
Saturday/Shabbat will learn about the Saint Edward woods and how Judaism is an earth-based religion with a deep commitment to sustainability. We are here to be earth protectors. That is what Judaism teaches. And to live in peace. We are also peacemakers. This is a wonderful opportunity for people of all ages and stages!
At 10:30 am, meet in Saint Edward's lower parking lot for Torah of the Trees - An Eco-Spiritual Experience for the Entire Family.
We will be having other nature-based programs and Shabbat experiences this summer and throughout the year. Jewish forest bathing is a current passion and I am excited to bring this spiritual practice to our Kol Ami community. I do believe that healing and wisdom surrounds us always. My task is to help Jews connect to Judaism through the living of our lives.
Judaism is a tradition that prioritizes life and sustainable living. Kol Ami is a community space for making that happen.
She is a Tree of Life to all that hold fast to her. Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace.
I am happy to be back at work and ready to meet you in the woods.