This past Wednesday was National Take a Walk in the Park Day. I laughed when I saw the name of the holiday. Why do we possibly need a holiday that celebrates walking through a park? Seems a little mundane to me. However, perhaps it is holier than I initially thought. According to NationalToday.com, researchers explain that those that live in apartment buildings with views of trees tend to be less aggressive than those with no view of nature. Being in and around nature often calms and soothes our nerves. Pausing and seeing God’s creations may remind us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. A day that encourages less selfishness. A day that encourages more mindfulness.
Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav offers in his Prayer for Nature: Grant me the ability to be alone; may it be my custom to go outdoors each day among the trees and grass – among all growing things and there may I be alone, and enter into prayer, to talk with the One to whom I belong. For Rabbi Nachman, sometimes, it was being alone in the outdoors that opened a connection with our Creator. It is why we have blessings known as birkat hanehenin, blessings that are offered to acknowledge the wonders of this world, that which gifts us joy. Our tradition is embedded with daily reminders to appreciate the beauty around us. The question is whether we allow the beauty of the world to embed within ourselves.
I am ashamed to say I did not take a walk in the park on Wednesday. But I did stop to smell the roses. And look at the hummingbird visit the lemon tree. And notice the brilliance of the sky. And feel the rush of the breeze and think for just a second, I am part of this creation. Like Rabbi Nachman, I prayed. May the wonders of this world stop us in our tracks, humble us, and remind us how very connected we are. And if you have a moment this Shabbat, go ahead and walk through the park. More nature and extra blessings can’t possibly hurt.
In partnership with The Jewish Journal, you can also find Rabbi Guzik’s blog post HERE.