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the beauty of god's creation

08/26/2021 09:17:38 AM

Aug26

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

I had the distinct privilege and honor this past Monday to speak at the prestigious Chautauqua Institution, as the keynote speaker to kick off the ninth and final week there, with the subject being “resilience”. While I had heard of Chautauqua Institution before, I had never been there, and I’m delighted that I had the opportunity. It is a gated community situated on the beautiful shores of Lake Chautauqua. Each home is more gorgeous than the next, many in a charming Victorian style. With land at a premium, the homes are frequently three or four stories. Some owners created small, boutique hotels out of them, and rent out space during the summer, living in a different home in the community. It would be insulting to suggest that it is a sleep-away camp for adults, as it is far more. I encourage you to visit their website, www.ciweb.org, to learn more about Chautauqua Institution.

The ride was only 2 ½ hours, but that in itself was not noticeable. What I did is take the time to literally smell the flowers on the ride up. Driving through Pennsylvania to New York on Interstate 79 was breathtaking. The verdant hills, the lush green valleys, the rolling farmland with nearly ripe corn neatly lined up in rows – all of this sang volumes of the glory of God’s creation. The variety of flora, mostly untouched by human hands, was magnificent. God’s handiwork was everywhere. I just marveled at the incredible beauty that lay before me on the ride, while simultaneously being ever mindful to remain in my lane on the highway.

When we live surrounded by nature, it is likely that we take its presence for granted. Instead of pausing to admire the beauty of trees on our property, how many of us will soon be fretting the overabundance of fallen leaves? Or the bushes and shrubs that we trim before winter? Or the more delicate growth that we bring indoors or cover with burlap? When we focus on these tasks and their annual annoyance, we don’t give ourselves the pleasure of enjoyment. I’m tempted to ride up there in the Fall to enjoy the foliage, as the Divine Painter dabs the landscape with yellows, oranges and reds, far better than Bob Ross.

We take nature for granted, and forget that its presence is threatened by our presence on this planet. If we want to insure that our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and future descendants have the same opportunities to enjoy the splendor of nature, then we have to do our part to help make certain that it will be there for them.

When we experience unique moments in our lives, there is frequently a bracha we can recite, something that expresses our gratitude to God at a moment when we might not be able to find the proper words. If one views the wonders of nature, you can recite the traditional six-word bracha formula, followed by the words Oseh Ma-aseh V’reisheet, which Siddur Sim Shalom translates as praising God, Source of Creation. There is a lesser known bracha that I invoked, one that we can recite when we see vast tracts of trees. The concluding words are Shekachah Lo B’olamo, which Siddur Sim Shalom translates as praising God, who has such beauty in His world.

May each of us not only enjoy the beauty of God’s creation regularly, but may we also merit so because we have ensured its presence for our descendants.

Thu, September 23 2021 17 Tishrei 5782