Earth Etude for Elul 11 – Sitting on the Dock of the Bay
by Hannah Henza~
I am sitting by a lake today looking out over a vast body of water and I find balance here.
There is little cell-service; there is much sunlight.
There are very large houses and fast-moving boats; there are small cottages and self-propelled craft.
This lake is warmed both by the sun and the nuclear power plant at its base; it was created by the contours of the land and the dam at its head.
This lake is home to countless species of wildlife, fish, birds, and humans.
Today we are constantly trying to get ahead, evolve, improve, dominate, conquer.
At the lake I see a different option, another possibility in which we slow down and make space for something more. Just as there are houses still being built on the lake shore, we cannot ask our communities to stop their forward progress. But alongside those houses are sanctuaries, limitations on dock size, governances on materials used and waste removal processes – protections for the water.
Perhaps what we need is a forced sense of protection, and a slower rhythm. The Rabbis of old embraced this means of control, writing Talmudic law in order to monitor the way we engaged with our communities, economies, and land. These rules governed the rhythms and of life while maintaining balance.
Today, I find similar meaning though my work in JOFEE – Jewish Outdoor Food Farming Environmental Education. JOFEE offers me a way to connect with my surroundings authentically and holistically; to be in and of this fast-paced world while simultaneously inviting me to slow-down. For each of us there is a path forward, a way through the overwhelming dominance of our culture. If you’re still looking for your path, keep searching; if you’ve found it, cling to it. Mine is JOFEE, what’s yours?
Hannah Henza is the JOFEE Program Manager at Hazon. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology from North Carolina State University and is pursuing an M.S. in Nonprofit Management and Jewish Communal Service from Gratz College. She is an avid outdoors-woman and proudly shares her home – a self-built tiny house on wheels – with her husband and cat.