A great deal of havoc and destruction has plagued the world as of late. Daily we hear of yet more tragedies in other countries. Our own cities, towns, and neighborhoods are being terrorized by violence and hatred.
When these awful events occur, I become very quiet and introspective. First, my mind starts to process the shock. Yes, shock. I’m always shocked when something like this occurs. Even when these things happen almost daily, I refuse to allow myself to become desensitized. Yes, it of course makes me sad and it often leads to feeling angry and frustrated, but then I start to contemplate how and why people commit these heinous acts, hoping to find a way to end the cycle. That’s when my mind switches to the need to be outside.
Being outdoors has always helped to calm my anxiety, but it also allows me the space to connect to the oneness of our world, our universe. When I am in the mountains, by the ocean, or standing in awe beneath the vibrant night sky, I remember that every being is a part of the ecosystem of this planet – we humans included. Each one of us has a personal responsibility to promote love, peace, and affirmation of one another as individual human beings. This doesn’t mean that the solution to the world’s problems is so simple, quite the opposite. But it’s a start, I hope.
I am reminded of a quote from Apollo 14 Astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell upon seeing the Earth from the Moon: “You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a b****.”
This global consciousness is also available to all who walk outside and spend time in nature. We just have to be open to it. Your challenge this week is to find a night when it will be clear and go stargazing. Dress warmly, in layers, and perhaps take along a cup of tea or hot cocoa. Just stare in radical amazement at the stars above you.
Carl Sagan once wrote, in reference to the photograph dubbed ‘Pale Blue Dot’ taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft on February 14th, 1990: “It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Perhaps when we begin to see each other as fellow travellers on spaceship Earth, when we begin to honor one another with mutual respect and with a love that allows us to connect at the deepest level, we can begin the work of peace and reconciliation. Thanks for reading.
Now an Update on my Kickstarter!
42 backers have pledged a total of $2,416, which means we still have $15,584 to go. If you’ve already pledged, thank you! If not, right now is the best time to help out. If just 16 folks each pledged $1000, we’d be finished right now. If just 315 folks each pledged just $50, we’d be funded right now.
We have the potential to raise all of this by the end of next week if everyone who is reading this shared it with their friends, family, fellow congregants, hiking groups, and others by email, Facebook, Twitter, or other social media.
Will you help promote my project? Every $36+ pledge gets a signed copy of my book. A $50+ pledge will get you that, plus a photo journal of my trek. It would be a wonderful Hanukah gift to me if you’d consider making a pledge this week. Click here to pledge right now!
Help me write the story of a rabbi seeking adventure, self-discovery, and interconnectedness on the Eastern Continental Trail.
Hope your Shabbat and weekend is restful and full of love & peace.