The past few weeks, my attention has been focused on the birds and the bees....and the water and the trees and the rocks and the desert and the forest. Yes, I've not forgotten that I'm an "environmentalist," out to "save the world" with the glow of organic produce in my cheeks and fashionable fair-trade hemp underwear covering my caboose.
These past few weeks I've been in touch with the natural world in a variety of ways. Last week, I enjoyed the company of some of the wonderful individuals at San Francisco Baykeeper, while we went out on the ocean checking for pollution, Danger Bay style. These guys do lots of excellent work in a watershed serving 10 million people and a whackload more aquatic, bird, plant and mammal life. And the sue the crap out of polluters - the american justice system at its finest.
It's funny - when you live the heart of the city, you almost forget that you are surrounded by water. And so yesterday, I took an easy bike ride through Golden Gate Park and ended up at Ocean Beach. Now I've not been at the ocean some time, and after struggling with my bike up a sandy embankment, I was faced with a breathtaking scene of white waves cresting long along a limitless, sandy shore. Shoes kicked off, I meandered down, lay my bike in the sand, and soaked my toes in the crisp surf of the ocean, letting myself wander back and forth according to the tide. Although I know this sounds like hippy-dippy silliness, you do get a sort of a primal pull to the water and to the earth when you step on the sand and into the ocean. It will knock you over if you aren't careful and will entice you deeper, only to surprise you with generous waves, one on top of the other, that confidently soak your pants (not that this happened to me. No, I was much too careful to come giggle and sopping wet out of the ocean).
I know I am one of many who recognizes the connection you get when facing the magnificence of nature. This week, I was introduced to an incredible organization based in Berkeley called Wilderness Torah. A little background: I'm one of those Jews who say I'm culturally Jewish (ie I'm kind of "meh" on the whole god thing but I love me a pile of steaming, golden crispy latkes and regularly kvetch about everything I can. Oy, the skirts girls wear these days!). Although I've been involved in Jewish organizations, and I do love that musty, old-person smell of the synagogue, I've never felt very connected to the spirituality of my religion. Wilderness Torah is working to connect Jews with the very present - but seemingly forgotten - connection to the natural world our religion has. It does this through educational programs with children and youth as well as providing pretty neat-o ways of celebrating holidays in places like the Red Wood forest or the Joshua Tree desert. I love this. I've always felt that the environmental aspect of Judaism has been largely ignored but is ever-present in the scriptures and I'm so pleased that this organization exists. I hope to volunteer with them, learn more, and who knows - maybe I'll find myself a nice vegan-socialist-fair-trade Jewish lawyer to marry.