Religion is nice, but even without all that divine revelatory hullabaloo, the Creator left us enough information in the earth about how to live in balance. If we did not have the Torah, we could have learned everything that we needed to know from the animals." — Babylonian Talmud, tractate Eruvin 100b
(contemporary translation by Rabbi Gershon Winkler)
Once I saw a cartoon depicting my ancestors. They're riding their camels, leading their sheep and goats through the wilderness. The young child turns to her Dad and says, "Are we there yet?" The father is clearly irritated and it's obvious by the look on his face, that this isn't the first time she's asked that question. Finally, exasperated, he leans over to her and says, "We're nomads for God's sake!"
And even though we live the settled life in houses, apartments, in places we call our own, still…. We are nomads. We are wandering through this world and everything is temporary. When we travel, we remember that this is true. We remember that we have only been passing through, and that we were never "in control." When we leave the seeming safety of Home, there is an opportunity to remember that "we are nomads, for God's sake!" We travel to encounter the world without preconceptions. We travel to meet the world as our teacher.
In my own travels, it is my practice to ask the question, "What is the Power of this Place?" In the book of Genesis, our ancestor, Jacob wakes up from a powerful dream and says, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the House of God. This is the Gate of Heaven!" When I ask that question, "What is the Power of this Place?" I am opening to the possibility that this is the House of God, that I will experience God's Presence right here, through the sights and sounds and smells and tastes and textures that surround me. And I am opening to the possibility that this place is the Gate of Heaven, the doorway to all dimensions, the secret to the expansion of consciousness, the mystery to all healing.
When I open to the Power of a Place, some of my best and most articulate teachers are the animals that make that place their home. Sometimes, when I sit in the presence of a wild animal, I get very quiet inside. If I pay attention with a sense of reverence for Life, I can feel the unself-conscious power of that animal pouring into the world as a kind of Praise for its Creator.
This is what our ancestors must have perceived when they authored the book Perek Shira. This ancient mystical text is comprised of a series of quotes from TaNaCh (Torah, Prophets and Writings) Talmud and Zohar, put in the mouths of all of Creation- the Sun, Moon, Clouds, Stars, Wind, Fig, Date, Vegetable, Apple, Grasses, Rooster, Dove, Vulture, Crane, Fish, Frog, Camel, Horse, Elephant, Lion, Bear, Wolf, Ant, Fox, Snake, Scorpion, Dog… each has a voice and a message of Praise.
In studying this text, I ask, Can I listen well to Creation? Can I join in the Cosmic Chorus and sing my own song of praise in concert with all the voices of Creation?
This will be my intention as we journey to the beautiful lands of Ecuador and the Galapagos: to listen well, to find our own voices and sing out in harmony with the amazing creatures that we encounter, to learn from Creation.
Please join us.
For more information and registration forms please visit: http://shefagalapagospilgrimage.blogspot.com/ and/or call (914)-439-7731.
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