Sunday, September 25, 2011

Earth Etude for 28 Elul

I went to the woods to live deliberately

I went out to the woods to live deliberately, so said Thoreau in his opening to Walden Pond. What does it mean to live deliberately? I think he was talking about something very Jewish--to live with intention, with kavanah, maybe even with simplicity. As we approach Rosh Hashanah where we review what we have done this past year, I often think about Thoreau in his cabin living with intention. With luck and good planning I even get to visit Walden Pond and do my own reflection, my own walking meditation, or sometimes sitting with a journal. If the weather is warm enough I might even take a dip--my own personal, outdoor mikveh so that I am ready to begin the new year fresh.

Why is mikveh something I gravitate towards? I think I have always had a love affair with water. I grew up in Michigan where you are never more than six miles away from a natural body of water. I swam at the neighborhood pool. I was a life guard at camp. I loved watching sunsets over Lake Michigan waiting to see that green flash of light. I am still drawn to the water. It cleanses and renews, purifies and refines. It calms me--whether I am swimming laps, dipping in the mikveh or watching the concentric circles after I have thrown a pebble in. Many of my most important life decisions have been made sitting by the water--Lake Michigan, Reeds Lake, Johnson Lake, Walden Pond, the Merrimack River, or the Atlantic Ocean--at Bar Harbor or Ogunquit. I am not alone in this. Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods makes the point that we do not allow our children enough time to play outdoors. It is a powerful argument. Every now and then activists fight to protect Walden Pond and the adjacent woods. I do what I can to help. Walden is a precious legacy for the next generation. Protecting it is part of what my Rosh Hashanah and my desire to live deliberately is all about.

Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein is the principal of Congregation Beth Israel in Andover, MA. She is also the president of Starpoint Consulting providing marketing strategy for technology companies. When she is not working she can be found outdoors in nature, hiking, biking, walking near the water with her husband. She blogs at the "Energizer Rabbi."

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