So the prompt was to break all the rules....so why not a monologue/prose poem?
So why can’t women study, I ask. It’s men’s work, they say. This study of Talmud and of Kabbalah, this is not for you. Why not take the classes directed for you?
Why not indeed. I glance unhappily at the class list, eyeing with well-placed suspicion at “women’s classes.” They should be subtitled “how to cater to you man and lose your brain.” Call me crazy but I just don’t think that I was created by the Infinite One to spend my days pampering to some lazy man and having his babies. And don’t give me that tired old line about how important it is for the woman to keep the house Kosher.
A great Rabbi once said that if G-d had not given us Torah we would have still learned it from the teaching of the animals and the whisperings of the trees. The Baal Shem Tov himself spend years learning the language of birds and Rabbi Slomo taught that one needs to learn from all the trees, the grasses, the animals and the stones. Even Rabbi Nachman said once to meditate in the grassy field and allow the grass to awaken the heart.
So, I think to myself, if all the great rabbis spoke of Nature as teacher, then who needs those old men at shul? Why not go to the source itself and turn to nature? Rocky Mountain National Park isn’t a million miles away and my folks will be out all day Tuesday, so why not skip school and drive out there?
I can’t believe my parents sometimes. Like this whole religion thing; why join in with the Chabad? They make the Chasidim look like some gay-rights-marching-Peta-protesting-John-Kerry-voting-Move-On-organizing wannabe. I mean, get a grip people. That Rabbi Soloway is just up the street and he teaches Talmud to women, why can’t we hang out with his congregation? And he gets visits from Reb Zalman. But if I ask my mom she’ll go into some pseudo (more like psycho) tirade in Yiddish about what a horrible daughter I am.
And she doesn’t even speak Yiddish.
So, screw it. Tuesday’s here and my car’s got gas, so I point the old girl in the direction of Long Peak and off we go. The Never Summer Mountains guide us along the road through Longmount, Ed rattling her engine in misery as she remembers her glory years on the east coast, before she was expected to drive at the altitude small planes usually fly at. I pat her steering wheel and promise her an oil change soon and don’t tell her we have to climb a bit higher than Boulder’s 5,000 foot altitude.
It only takes an hour to get to the Park. Long Peak’s massive cone is just ahead, surrounded by the jagged mass of granite that are the Rockies. All around, giving us relief from the sun’s radiation attack, are tough old pines with groves of Aspen striking out like a flame here and there.
It’s something about them, y’know? Yeah, I think I’ll do my meditating/praying/whatever you want to call it under them. Once I asked my mom if I could take a meditation class over at Naropa University and she had a fit cos they’re Buddhist and all. But who cares? G-d, she’s so uptight and even if I had ended up a BuJew it’s not so bad. Sarah up the street is and she’s way cool. And anyways it’s not like Jews for Jesus or anything.
We drive a bit more, Ed and I, until I see a particular grove of Aspens. Not sure why that group is calling me but it is. Ed sputters and stalls out in the parking lot, eternally grateful for the rest. I leave her and walk across the pavement and over the ragged rocks. The Aspen grove is small compared to the pine forest all around, their bark gray and sleek next to their craggier cousins., their heart-shaped leaves golden.
I walk until I see one that draws me in. She’s just slightly bigger than the others, the bark on her trunk a bit more jagged. Under her leafy skirt I sit.
And I wait.
And I stop.
At first it’s the constant nagging voice, it slips away, to be replaced with the russle of golden leaves. Then goes the tense muscles in my body. They’re replaced with stronger roots, smoother skin.
The granite underfoot is warm as I slid through it, grabbing a hold, steading myself in the wind. My sister Aspens clasp onto my feet with their own. Through their dancing leaves they greet me as their youngest.
As do the Pines, their voices a gentle whisper. Raven calls out a cheeky hello before settling onto one of my branches.
The winds come.
And the storms.
My golden mane blows away. Snow settles onto my gray branches. My sisters comfort me through the worst blizzards, assuring all that the avalanches can’t reach us here.
The snow melts; the life giving water sinking deep into the soil. My feet drink it in. Sap begins to trickle in my toes, then tickles up my trunk, onto my branches. Small buds sprout over them, ready to burst into life.
Blinking, opening my eyes, what’s happened?
Oy, I’m me again.
But I’m not.
When I lean forward, losing physical touch with my sister tree, my long brown hair covers my face, only now on the tips here and there, golden bits like a leaf slowly turning color. The hair my Tallit I give thanks to Ein Sof, the Infinite One. I thank my sisters and my cousins, the Pines and Raven and the mountains themselves.
As I wake Ed from her restful slumber I say my farewells.
But not for long.
Who needs classes when the real teaches are everywhere?