L’Chayim (To Life)

On the road back to Joe’s Valley, visions of Miriam’s timbrels dance through my head. If there was one word to describe our weekend in Moab with the Adventure Rabbi, it would be FULL. Full stomachs, full hearts, full moon.

full moon
Full moon rising in Moab, UT, anticipating its lunar eclipse later that night.

If Drexel added another word, it would be NEW. This weekend, poor widdle goyim Drexel experienced a crash-course in Jewish Tradition 101. This entailed hiking in the desert, drinking wine, more drinking, random Yiddush phrases, eating as much as possible “because you’re looking a little thin,” dancing and singing and clapping along when you don’t know the words, feeling like family in a community of strangers, discovering the “fun” in a little dysfunction, and… more drinking. (“Red or white?” was the fifth question of Passover.)

Our adventure with the Adventure Rabbi began Saturday afternoon when we arrived at the Gold Bar Camground right outside of Moab, UT. After some introductions, Drexel was sent to work on the campfire while I carried chopped onions into the vaulted outhouses (to absorb the stank – surprisingly effective!). For the next few days, we just flowed with the events as they arose: helping families stake their tents, carrying things over here and there, lending a hand during hiking obstacles, just being helpful wherever possible (a real mensch).

I assisted with the little kid group (ages 3-8) and had a blast! I think I’m 27 going on 5, because I was just as giddy as they were jumping across rocks and squealing about staying out of the hot lava (hence the importance of an anti-lava suit we handily invented for when there was a shortage of rocks). The upside of being 27 is that I’m bigger and smarter, so I can pick them up and carry them when the going gets tough, and also not get hit by a car when crossing the road. But… that’s about it. Being a little kid is awesome.

Tunnel
Running through a tunnel amid shrieks and howls.
Kids
Our crazy gang standing still for a rare moment.
chelsea
The kids were enamored with rock climber Chelsea’s dog, Maizie. (So was I.)
art
Who doesn’t love arts and crafts?

Drexel was assigned to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah group (ages 9-11), basically making sure the kids didn’t do anything (too) dangerous during their hike to the Corona Arch. Nobody died, and that’s always good. It got a little sketchy scrambling across rocks in the rain, but only one boy slipped and Drexel quickly pulled him back to his feet. When it started raining hard, everyone sought shelter under a small roof and watched the desert become uncharacteristically wet and cool. Waterfalls formed from the consolidation of all the rain flowing off the rocks overhead, and soon there were murmurs of the “Passover miracle” as seven waterfalls sprayed down in all their glory.

waterfall
Waterfalls upon waterfalls. (That red dot is a person, if that gives any perspective…)

The rain abated for a while, but returned with a fury at night. One woman who was camping for her first time had remarked that she had never felt so happy and serene, and why hadn’t she thought to camp before? Hours after that statement, her tent was flattened to the ground and everything inside was soaked. She ended up getting a hotel room for the remaining nights. I’m crossing my fingers that all the folks who tried camping for the first time ever (about 30% of the almost 200 folks who showed up) find the chutzpah to try again in the future. As one of the Rabbi’s stories pointed out, “It could always be worse.” And hey, at least we were in a gorgeous part of the world.

gold bar
Our campground and “backyard” – not bad, eh?

All in all, it was a truly wonderful way to spend the weekend, and I’m so grateful that we were able to be a part of this Seder. We met tons of interesting people of all ages. In fact, at one point everyone went around and shared an interesting fact about themselves. It was neat to hear these tidbits of other peoples’ lives, and to have random strangers come up later to ask about our road trip. The organizers of this event were clearly intent on building community, creating connections, and they succeeded. I didn’t even realize how much I missed that feeling of family that only comes with a range of ages and personalities. And it’s sad that this kind of community is so rare. How often do I get to limbo with children one minute and offer a hand up to an elderly gentleman the next, or laugh around a campfire while a Rabbi plays guitar and children roast s’mores?

limbo
I’m sure all those adults are sitting there wishing they were still flexible…
Sitting
Two miles into the desert, we sat down for lunch and the first half of our Passover Seder. We sang, danced, read from the Torah, and basically completed every part of the Seder except the eating and drinking.
Family
These three girls just met this weekend! How quickly children make best friends…
tablecloth
Back at the campsite, setting up our “table” for the Passover Seder dinner.
Drexel Matzah Man
Drexel is ready to dole out Matzot Ball soup. AND he looks super fresh and clean clean.
seder table
A unique and amazing way to do a seder. After the first two glasses of wine, nobody really minded sitting on the ground.

 

reflections
The desert reflects your soul.

I wish we could have stayed longer. The desert here is beautiful, stark red rocks jutting out of golden sand with pockets of lush green plant life tucked near caves and along rivers. After it rains, all the flowers and cacti blossom with the splendor of a diva bursting into song. Drexel took a good number of photos when we had free time to go on our own hike to the Corona Arch, but I’ll save those for a separate gallery post in just a couple minutes! Also, there were a bunch of photos posted by Adventure Rabbi here.

tunnel
Taking a tunnel into the wilderness.
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One thought on “L’Chayim (To Life)”

  1. We are deLIGHTED to read about your Pesach in the desert! What a Seder! We had a delicious Time with Sister Jane & Ken in NC and some old time lovely friends. Heading back to Gainesville. Love coming your way. Bahira & Shaya

    Like

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