I’ve been living in this country for more than 30 years. Yes. I know that’s hard to believe, especially with me being 29 and all, and yet. More than 30 years, and so much I have not seen, especially in the middle. I know, “us” on the edges think the middle is kind of empty, “fly over”, 5-6 hours of sleep with nothing underneath, and hop, here we are, but turns out, the middle is amazingly beautiful. On this week of Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of Comfort, I venture on my journey cross-country; my “discovering America”, my “masa hashalom”, journey of peace with this place that, admittedly initially unintentionally, became my home. There is lots to say, but as usual, it is – almost Shabbat, so here is just one day, and hopefully, more to come.
Thursday, Day 4: Idaho Falls, Idaho to Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
I thought that G-d lives in Yosemite; now it turns out, He takes residence in Grand Teton too.
The G-d of Grand Teton is awesome and majestic and beautiful, and a little scary too. I arrive after driving through great expanses of yellow wheat and other green fields, barns, trucks, and horses in Colter Bay, just in time for an afternoon hike.
I almost make it to Hermitage Point when I hear the first boom. It’s a bit cloudy but, hey, I’m only 0.5 miles away from that point and can’t give up now. I rush out to the edge of the Bay, breath deeply, trying to take in the amazing wow, click as many pictures as possible and rush back. 10 minutes later, it is no longer a far away boom; it is lightening, thundering, raining and – hailing! The lightening is so close – it’s blinding. The thunder is so loud, I instinctively cup my ears and duck down. What were the instructions? Hide under a tree? Stay away from the trees? I am alone in the forest, drenched. My hair is dripping; my shirt clings to my body; my pants stick to my legs; my favorite hiking shoes – soaked. The trail I was on is a muddy creek. I am alone in the forest. Not a soul in sight (this was the “well traveled trail”…). The “village” is 4 miles away. Just me and the trees. It’s immediately 1944. All I have is water, two cliff-bars and a bag of grapes. No reception, and I didn’t buy the bear spray – for $45.99 a can. $45.99!! They told me not to worry, bears dont “frequent this area”, and if you see one, “you can sing”, they suggest at the ranger station, “just make some noise”. Is this not enough noise right now?? The inside of backpack is getting wet; I put my phone in my bra, perhaps the last semi-dry place, then keep going through the woods. Suddenly as it has begun, it eases off. First, big drops instead of the hail; then lighter drops, then a semi-smiling sun fights through the clouds.
In the evening I find a place with a veggie soup and salad. They set me up with decent wifi and a place to charge, and let me sit indefinitely with my computer while I write. The guy at the tent village confidently hands me a bundle of wood and kindling for my cabin’s stove, as even he knows I know what to do with it, and miraculously, I manage to light and enjoy the warmth until I fall asleep.
G-d of the Grand Tetons laughs. Sometimes we laugh together and sometimes, He laughs alone. Grand Teton and I are not yet friends, but I think by tomorrow we will be.
From Billings Montana, home of the “Christmas Menorah”, my blue stallion and I wish you a Shabbat Shalom.