Finding a Spiritual Home in the Woods

by Karen Bloom

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My husband Ira and I are heading down a trail in Harriman State Park, just north of the city. The setting sun’s orange light reflects against and highlights the surrounding foliage. Everything is aglow during this magical time of day. We have been hiking since morning, as we do once a week year round. It is early September and I ask Ira about going to Rosh Hashanah services at Temple Israel of New Rochelle that next week. He is not enthusiastic, sweeping his hand across the trail in front of us — “this mountain is my spiritual place”. Soon after, an idea takes root.

Truth be told, we like going to services, just not on the high holidays. It is way too crowded and it feels confining sitting indoors for long periods of time, especially on crisp fall days. As much as I have tried over the years, I get antsy, focusing on the people sitting around me more than on the prayer books before me. How right is Ira…our spiritual home is in the woods.