I thrive on long summer days and lots of sunshine, so I find myself clinging onto and relishing these past few weeks of summer sneaking into September. Whether I’m heading out for short runs, for bike rides or hikes with Barb, or alone, my internal compass invariably sends me toward nearby country roads or urban or forest trails. No matter what my body gives or doesn’t give me on the day, I always feel better for the experience. Invariably, I am less stressed and I find clarity for whatever was in my thoughts, often without even knowing what had been pressing on my mind.

I recently came upon these two quotes, the first, “author unknown” and the second attributed to John Muir, the renowned American naturalist.

“The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.”

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.”

It turns out that these modern understandings of the importance of uncluttered spaces are reflected in our ancient stories. At age 80, Abraham left his father’s house and his homeland on a long journey to a new land, where he showed up spiritually ready for a new life. A young Jacob ran in crisis from his parents’ home, into the wilderness where he first found his spirituality. And the Israelites later spent 40 years in the wilderness, using that space and time away from distractions to leave behind an oppressed past, to focus inward and discover their true selves – individually and as a community – before entering a new future. 

It works! Well, it may be more difficult in the dead of winter – and that is why I rue the end of summer – but it seems that it has always worked.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Allan