5777 Elul Expedition — King in the Field

5777 Elul Expedition — King in the Field

The metaphor for the space of God-connection on Rosh Hashanah is “the palace.” The “palace” is a most special experience, separate from ordinary life, a place of special holiness, a place we don’t enter casually. We prepare as best we can, physically and spiritually. We do our best to be worthy, and where we fall short, we pray for compassion and forgiveness.

Elul is different. The metaphor for the God-connection space is “the field.” During Elul, our sages teach, “the King is in the field.” The “field” is the material space where we live our ordinary lives. Teshuvah — returning. During Elul, God is doing teshuvah! Returning to us to meet us in the field.

Our challenge during Elul: to meet God’s teshuvah with our own. But where and how do we find God in the field? Is it when we take the opportunity to do an act of kindness for another person? Is it how we notice with gratitude when someone does an unexpected act of kindness for us? Is it when we see a beautiful flower, or the smile on the face of a stranger, or stop to listen to a bird sing? Is it all of the above?

So here’s our invitation: Post a Comment below, on any or every day of Elul, about your personal encounter with the King in the Field. We also invite you to check out the comments of friends who are sharing the journey, and share your personal responses to what they have said.

Most of all, we invite you to share this journey of our Torah Circle community!

Note: If you want to include a picture, just email it to Aryae, and we’ll add it to your post. 🙂

13 thoughts on “5777 Elul Expedition — King in the Field

  1. Aryae Post author

    On the 2nd day of Elul, Wendy and I were walking on the Coastal Trail, talking about teshuvah, and how we would spot the King/Queen in the Field when He/She appeared. Then we saw this heart attached to a post along the trail. Thank you King/Queen for making this one one easy! 🙂

  2. Diane Elliot

    On Sunday, the 5th of Elul, I joined hundreds of folks at the First Congregational Church in Berkeley, to sing, pray, and prepare to march to downtown Berkeley, to bring an energy of kindness and uplift to Civic Center Park, where an alt-right rally had been scheduled for 1 PM. Even though the rally had been officially cancelled the day before, a number of coordinated groups still planned to converge on the park, to bring a message of peaceful resistance–“not in our town!” I had made a decision several days earlier not to march, but to stay at the church, to meditate, and to hold a grounded loving space for those who might be fearful or hurt. Several people who could not walk easily elected to stay with me. The church offered us its beautiful little Loper Chapel, and we arranged ourselves in a circle, centered ourselves in our breath, and began to beam lovingkindness toward downtown Berkeley and everyone there. People came to join us for a time, then left, and others came. At some point, a person with visual impairment entered with her service dog and sat down to meditate with us. When I heard them enter, I opened my eyes for a moment. The large yellow hound had lowered himself onto the floor in the middle of our circle beside his owner’s chair. He was looking deeply and directly into my eyes, as I offered some meditation instructions. Then he stretched onto his side and deeply relaxed. Later, my friend David Daniel who was sitting next to the dog and its owner, said that he was tempted to pet the dog, however he knew that you weren’t supposed to touch an on-duty service dog. But the dog stretched out its head and laid it on David Daniel’s foot in a sweet gesture of trust and comfort. Thank you dear dog, angel of the One Most High! We continued to send lovingkindness and blessing to our dear ones, to ourselves, and even to those whom we fear and with whom we disagree. By the end of an hour-and-a-half, the Queen/King was certainly sitting with us.

  3. Aryae Post author

    Walking along the Coastal Trail where so many interesting things seem to show up, Wendy and I started noticing little rock piles in the shape of people and animals. Then we noticed the signs: “Hobo Art.” Then we saw an old dude sitting by the side of the road.

    “Are you the Hobo?” I said.

    “Yeah!” he said. “Name’s Cyrus.” He lives in Reno and comes over to the coast to make his art.

    “How long do these statues stay here?” I said.

    “I take ’em down every night,” he said.

    “What’s the point?”

    “So people can enjoy them during the day!”

    I thought about that. “So how do you make a living?”

    “I live in my RV. If people get pleasure from my art, they can put a little something in my can here. I always have enough to eat for supper.”

    “What’s next?” I asked.

    “Going south,” he said. “Next stop is Santa Cruz.”
    “Wow!” I said. “You’re bring pleasure to a lot of people.” Wendy and I put a few dollars in his can.

    “Thank you,” he said.

    “Thank YOU!” I said.

    I was talking to Cyrus, and also to the King in the Field.

  4. Wendy

    This year, our apple tree grew five apples, two more than last year. It seemed that the tree was gifting us with a little more fruit. I was so pleased, and I would watch the apples growing, first green and then turning to red. My anticipation was that we would have apples from our tree this year for Rosh Hashanah like we did last year. I remembered how sweet last year’s crop was. Yesterday, I went to look at the apples and saw they were all gone without a trace. My assumption was that the raccoon family that visits at night gobbled them up. How sad I felt. Later that day, Aryae told me that our neighbor, who did not know about the situation, offered him apples from their tree since there were too many for them to eat. A lesson about sharing, and the King was in the field and tree.

    1. Dan Howard

      Wonderful story, Wendy!
      There’s an apple tree in my mother’s backyard that we planted when my father passed away in 1991.
      In late summer it goes crazy with fruit. Every bite I taste reminds me of the good times we shared and how sweet it was.

  5. Dan Howard

    The Queen is in the Field

    24 Elul 5777 / September 15, 2017

    I attended a retreat over Labor Day weekend in Marin at Green Gulch Farm/Retreat Center (affiliated with the Zen Center of San Francisco).

    The grounds and accommodations were beautiful, peaceful and welcoming. Muir Beach was a 20-minute walk on trail from the retreat center. To get there I needed to pass though huge the Green Gulch gardens – acres of both vegetables and flowers. I moved slowly, meditatively, as if walking a labyrinth. The vegetable garden was breathtaking; every variety and hue of green was represented: cabbage, broccoli, chard, bok choi, parsley, basil…

    I paused, and a feeling of peace stirred in me. But the Queen had more surprises in store.

    Beyond the vegetable gardens were the flowers. Again, a stunning variety waiting to greet me, arrayed in their glorious colors. And there were friendly insects as well, honeybees and butterflies, adoring their floral hosts. The small creatures were busy with their holy work of pollination and did not mind me gazing at them with admiration and awe, just a few inches away. I took a deep breath and allowed the enchantment and calm of the garden to wash over me.

    Time seemed to be suspended. The Queen smiled.

    – Dan Howard

  6. Diane Elliot

    In this hay-dry August cow pasture in Olema, a couple of sweet Naked Ladies stand, their hair-petals blown in the wind, Shekhinah’s harbingers….Shanah tovah all!


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