There are many times during the day, as I walk the halls as a trauma/hospital chaplain that I wonder, "what the heck is this Nature Rabbi doing spending so much time in stifled, air conditioned air and artificial lighting?"
In pondering this, I thought of the beauty of the sunrise as I park my car in the lot, facing east, in the mornings; the lush greenery that forms the walkway to the hospital; the welcome smell of nature and feel of "real air" when I step out of the hospital after a long shift; the beauty of the moon and stars after an evening shift......yes, all of this is true.
But today, I stumbled across a writing by Rabbi Phil Miller, entitled "Down From the Mountaintop" as I was preparing my thoughts for Bereshit -- the first reading in the Book of Genesis - the on-going creation of our world.
Rabbi Miller is discussing the impact of hearing his friend read Psalm 104 as they reached and relaxed on the summit of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I, too, was blessed to reach and relax on that same summit, although I have to confess I moaned and groaned the last 1/4 of the trek. (In fairness to me, that was pre-Nature Rabbi days..... more like Princess days.)
The Psalm begins and is mostly about the awesome power and beauty of Creation, but it ends with a challenge to end destruction and sin, bringing the reader up short.
Rabbi Miller then wrote after his personal reflection on this duality: "Spiritual euphoria inspired by nature can be deceiving - it may lead you to think that all that matters is your experience on the mountaintops, encountering God. This spirituality misses the point. Nature's beauty can be inspiring, but it must also teach you that much of the world is not this perfect, that there is great destruction and deep brokenness in need of repair and healing. The mountaintop must compel you to pray and work for a better world."
Thanks Reb Miller wherever you are -- this crystallizes my feelings of the dichotomy of the awe of nature and the importance of my work with trauma, drama, loss and death in the hospital. I come in from outside to work with the "deep brokenness in need of repair and healing."
It was Mother Teresa who taught her nurses who worried that they had no time for prayer, that their work was, indeed, prayer.
Let us live our days in awe of creation, but knowing our responsibility for stewardship; enjoying the view from the proverbial top of the mountain, but knowing our work to help with the deep brokenness in need of repair and healing. Let us go forth.....seeing the Oneness of this call to action and let our very lives be a prayer.