The Pacific NW Reconstructionist Shabbaton, held at Camp Solomon Schechter near Olympia, was the Shabbat home for over 100 members of Reconstructionist communities from throughout the Pacific Northwest, Joined by scholars from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, we spend a beautiful Shabbat together learning, eating, celebrating and singing beneath a canopy of trees above a lake.
I was blessed to serve at the event as the Musician-in-Residence, and had a wonderful time meeting new friends while spending time with fellow Havurahniks. I got to see what our friends in other communities are doing to create vibrant Jewish life where they are. I learned about Kabbalistic kissing, the nature(s) of holiness, how to read between the lines of liturgical praise; and above all, that I still have so much more to learn.
One of the most revelatory things of all was that, thanks to my cheap little flip=phone unable to have any reception out in the woods, I turned off my electronics and left them off the whole time I was there. I didn't even feel tempted once to take a picture and somehow "curate" my experience. (Other folks did take pictures and have promised to share later.)
And you know what? Without the electronics, Time Slowed Down.
It was surprisingly easy to let go of the impulse to check for email.
Everything I needed, all the information I wanted in that moment, was right in front of me:
-- the song of the redwing blackbird perched on a reed in the lake;
-- the honking of geese flying low over the water early in the morning;
-- the sound of eggs sizzling on the grill from the camp kitchen;
-- the rustle of the wind through the treetops as I drifted off to sleep at night;
-- the smiles and laughter of new friends as we shared our stories;
-- the rustling rainbow of many-colored tallitot (prayer shawls) as we wrapped ourselves in intention and prepared to dive deep into prayer;
-- conversations with new friends where we shared wisdom with each other and elevated each other in moments of understanding and gratitude;
-- the sound of a community's collective voices raised in song, as sparks flew into the air above a roaring campfire;
All of these sounds gave me everything i needed to hear, see and know during this past Shabbat.
When I got home this afternoon, I decided not to rush right into my electronic responsibilities right away; instead, I kissed Sweetie hello and reconnected a little with her, and then I took a luxurious two-hour nap.
It was the right thing to do.
Now, a few hours later, I remain quietly amazed at how little I needed during Shabbat other than food, prayer and community. And I know that, thought it's much harder do disconnect in the city, I want to try making space for at least a few hours of unplugged time next week and see how it feels.
Shavua tov -- a good week.