Look Up!

Walking up a steep hill, on the way back to my room from the art building at Camp Ramah Darom, I see a dark cloud forming in the sky. I almost miss it, this portent of stormy weather, because I’m busy calculating what I need to do to get ready for Shabbat in the hours before sunset.

The month passes quickly, as it always does. The work is intense, the time off too short. There is hardly a moment to reflect, and it’s easy to overlook the grandeur of the setting in the rush to get things done. Yet, as I look up and see this cloud, I am compelled to stand still. I don’t need to catch my breath, literally, after weeks of walking these hills. But I want to capture this image, digitally, so my memory of this month won’t be lost when I’m home.

The next morning the air is cool and crisp as I walk to Shabbat morning prayers. I’ve been awake since before the dawn, attuned to the anxiety campers experience on this final weekend of the session. Some will act out and demand extra attention from counselors and teachers. Others will cry easily and need to be comforted. It’s my 13th summer working at camp, and I believe I am prepared for anything.

What I don’t anticipate is the camper who wants to discuss last week’s parashah because he’d found something interesting, and a bit confusing, in the what we’d read. We spend half an hour poring over translations and commentaries, my heart soaring while studying Torah with this enthusiastic 13-year-old. What I don’t expect is to stay up past midnight, laughing as 14-year-olds poke fun at the campiness of summer camp, or to tear up at their beautiful rendition of “Hotel California” and other music from my youth. My back aches from sitting on the concrete steps of the amphitheater; my heart aches from longing for just a few more minutes in this magical place.  

I know it’s probably my last summer on staff and it’s nearly time to go home, time to re-enter “the real world.”

It’s been a week since I climbed that hill and contemplated the gift of living for a month on a mountainside in north Georgia, where all you have to do is look up to see the beauty of God’s creation. While I marvel at how effortlessly I now accomplish a 3-mile route with my dog, I miss the terrain that forced me to slow down, to catch my breath and notice my surroundings.

Scrolling through the photographs of storm clouds gathering and of fog lifting over the tops of the trees, I recall these particular moments and see the potential in life’s countless moments–before or after a storm–when unanticipated joy waits to be realized.

Discover More

Where To See Yiddish Theater Today

A guide to Yiddish performances and festivals around the world.

Cream of Carrot Soup with Roasted Jalapenos

This is the perfect soup to warm you up, make you feel good, and fill up your belly.

How Self-Care Can Help You Cope with Tough Times

Feeling stressed or upset? These DIY mental-health strategies can give you an emotional, physical, and spiritual boost.

Time to Make Your Hanukkah Resolutions

Exploring the roots of the word, Hanukkah.

A Latin Twist on Hanukkah Latkes

A Hanukkah latke recipe inspired by Mexican and Jewish family traditions

A Spiel and a Yarn

How having an extended family of different faiths built my unique Jewish identity

Valuing Debate and Conversation

Jewish tradition, informed by the precedent of the Talmud, prefers to promote discussion rather than correctness.