Continued from last week here:
Likutey Moharan II:73 – Week 2
Being out of town and away from my normal environment during Pesach helped me view the Rebbe’s lesson on saying Tehillim from a different perspective.
Having the opportunity to daven in a shul with a large picture window and a view of a mountain helped me realize just how vitally important it was to me to connect the words of prayer with the beauty of nature. During those times when I have been in windowless shuls surrounded only by man-made objects I feel stifled and longed to run to the forest to encounter the beauty Hashem made and to speak to Him there. Five years ago, I even wrote a poem to give voice to these feelings:
Inside I listened,
I was inside and yet my mind was already outside;
walking in the hills,
listening to the wind in the forest,
sitting next to a mountain stream.
Under a bridge I finally sat,
watching water overcome all obstacles in its path.
Over the top,
around the side,
continuing to flow,
from a place beyond words.
it was what I so desired inside;
how I yearned not to remain
confined between the covers of a book inside.
Initially enamored by the book “Where the Red Fern Grows”, I developed a connection to nature as a child and spent a lot of time exploring forests and parks near my home. This was something that contributed to my later attraction to Chassidus; especially when I read how the Rebbe, and also his great grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov, would wander through the forests in order to engage in their devotions there in solitude. One story in particular always lingered in my mind. In Sichos HaRan #162 Reb Noson related,
“I once walked with the Rebbe through Medvedevka, where he lived earlier. We strolled all through the fields and hills. The Rebbe gestured towards the hills and meadows and said, ‘See all these fields and hills around the city. See all the other places near the town. I was in all these places. I went to each of them many times and secluded myself in prayer.’
The Rebbe pointed to a mountain near the city. He said, ‘There is a very high place on top of that mountain, and in the middle of it is a small depression. I would climb to the top and seclude myself there. This was my favorite place and I would go there many time. And there were also other places.'”
Living in a major metropolitan area, I cannot easily walk out my back door and quickly escape into a forest for an hour of hisbodedus. Despite my strong desires to do so, I cannot easily achieve this ideal on a daily basis and I am forced to practice hisbodedus in a quiet room in my home. (Isn’t it ironic that the title of this series is “Out To The Field” when my hisbodedus is anything but that?!) When I read that Reb Noson’s taught that reciting Tehillim is a bechinah (aspect) of hisbodedus (Likutey Halachos, Hilchos Krias Shema 5:11) it occured to me that I was, in fact, practicing a bechinah of hisbodedus outside in nature, as the Rebbe recommended, by saying Tehillim down on the rock by the river – even with the hum of traffic in the background and joggers and bikers constantly passing by.
Next week I will describe how I continued to live with this lesson and how I explored an insight from Reb Noson connected to this topic.