Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Spiritual Forestry

Someone very wise said to me that, before age 60, we must be like the tree that grows tall, puts down deep roots, branches out, produces flowers, fruit and seeds. We must welcome the nests of squirrels and birds, weather the storms, ride out the harsh winters, hot summers, droughts and floods. We must abide over time. But after 60, he said, it's our job to become the forest.

I think about that a lot, what it takes to become the forest. We must join the chain of the generations after 60. We need to hold the circle of life for those who are younger, who are still growing and striving and thriving. We surely must.

Last year in December I went to Kansas City to put a gravestone on my mother's grave. This year in December, my father's family's yizkor memory book will be translated from Yiddish to English. I've exchanged emails with people who have done a lot of this work, who are part of the Yizkor Project. I'm still trying to figure out how to choose one. Something is always lost in translation. How do I determine which one of these competent translators is right for the job? I want the soul of those stories to come through the translation. How do I explain this? Still mulling it over.

When the pages of Viszygordek memories are translated, they will become part of the project and will be available online through the New York Public Library site for anyone who might be interested.

This is definitely one of the ways one becomes the forest, right?

Meanwhile I've been reading some of the translated stories from the Kremenets yizkor book. It was the large town close to my family's village. They are quirky, something I of course adore. The one I was reading yesterday was not so much a memory as a rant. It was all about how Jews who only study Torah and don't learn a trade do a disservice to all Jews. He goes on and on about how the ancient Jews worked the land and all Jews should learn a trade to support the community. Wow. I think they're having similar conversations about this in Israel today! So interesting.

The other thing I've been reading about is Crescent Lake, on the eastern slope of the Cascades in Oregon. That's where I'll be spending Thanksgiving. I love mountains and I love mountain lakes. The land will be just right for me.

Where does my love of mountains come from? I feel at home in the mountains. That terrain always feels good under my feet. I love the land at Tahoe. I love the Appalachians, too, also the Rockies, of course. (I was born in Denver, lived there until age 5. I never really adjusted to living in the muggy, harsh weather and seasons of the midwest.)

Is this love of mountains nothing more than a personal character quirk or is it embedded in my DNA somewhere? The reason I wonder is because Vszygordek in situated in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, in a valley of the Kremenets Range. Mountains are my favorite natural environment, which perhaps begs the question of why the hell I live in a swamp. Don't ask me!

I will likely never know why I so adore the mountains, but it sure is fun to think about.

What I do know is that life is good and I am grateful. I really am. Shalom.


Pam said...

I remember the dilemma you had a while ago about visiting where your ancestors lost their lives in the Jewish prison camps.
I think it would be lovely to go where your soul sings - the mountains - would you consider the foothills of the Carpathian mountains in the valley of the Kremenets Range instead, and I mean instead of in place of 'as well as'.
I would be interested to hear what you think - I am a great believer in feeding the soul and giving evil a wide berth.

Pam said...

..though I do remember some of them lost their lives fleeing is that right?

Reya Mellicker said...

I've been back and forth with the idea of putting my feet on the land there. Sometimes it seems like it would be healing, but there was so very much tragedy and suffering there during the Holocaust, I worry that it would overwhelm me, keep me from connecting backwards in time to before the Holocaust.

Also it takes me such a long time to connect with new landscapes, I'm not sure it would be worth the trip.

It's interesting to think about.