A Moon Walk on a Winter Night
I read EdenKeeper’s article on Ma’yan Tikvah and Rabbi Allen’s nature chaplaincy and was curious. What did it mean to do your worshipping outdoors? I’ve always felt my best walking, with the sky above. I am an outdoor girl, definitely. Nature chaplaincy sounded like the experience for me. So, Sunday night I decided to meet Rabbi Katy Allen at the Sedge Meadow Conservation Area in Wayland, Massachusetts for a moon walk.
It’s just a simple thing, walking through a field on a winter’s night– an ordinary thing. No preparation required, just the putting on of boots, which is how we in New England start nearly every day.
Rabbi Allen explained that the purpose of the walks is to get more people out in nature. And, that they are to help us heal, heal one another and heal the earth, part of the ancient Hebrew Tikkun olam instruction to all Jews, to repair the world.
Out of the dark, the cars came, one after another. My fellow moon walkers emerged. There were five of us, four women, one man — a mixed faith group. A dog named Susie scampered ahead. The sky was gauzy. Waiting, watching for the moon to appear at 8:15, we stood motionless as its hazy form rose slowly through the trees. Baptized by its glow, we now truly were moon walkers. We turned on to the path, night worshippers marching together across the snowy fields. It felt a little dangerous, a little forbidden – exciting
Though the snow had collected to over a foot, we walked on, with the trees to our right, and an open field to our left, towards the Sudbury River. Rabbi Allen led us in an exercise to create an expanding sense of vision, as we slowly moved our arms apart. Looking over the marshes, we listened to the wind rustle the leaves.
And, we sang intermittently — appropriate and inappropriate — tributes to the moon, to love’s travails. Cat Stevens’ “Oh, I’m being followed by a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow. . .”, Van Morrison’s, “Well, it’s a marvelous night for a Moondance. . .”, an Irish ballad about the moon shining over fallen soldiers. And, the lovely, It’s Only a Paper Moon, “But it wouldn’t be make believe if you believed in me . . .”. Finally, one of our walkers sang a solitary, beautiful Hebrew song about the vagaries of romance.
I initially felt a bit loopy driving to a snowfield at night, when I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to get rid of the white stuff. In the end though, like most things — it was the pleasure of being with people — their energy, their voices merging in love songs to the moon — that did it for me. It was a sacred, silly experience, falling into the snow. It was a treasure, moving across the winter landscape — being in the night — with joyful fellow travelers.
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