Blowing Shofar in Backcountry

Trumpets in Backcountry

At sundown tonight begins the Jewish holiday of Yom Teruah. “A Day of Noise.” Now I’m not Jewish. I know this only because I just went backpacking with my longtime friend, Jack Woodring. …and he showed up to the trailhead with a trumpet. Why, you ask? Well, I did.

Jack happens to be a Messianic Christian. That’s a Christian who interprets their belief through its traditional roots in Jewish culture. And this weekend preceded the Jewish celebration known as The Day of Blowing the Shofar. I’m Taoist. I like hearing the silence. So what’s Jack blowing through a deer horn got to do with travel in nature?

According to him, that horn echoing through dunes and forest personified peace and tranquility. I objected… at first. As Judith Kogan reported on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday (here), the sound is jarring. But in the aftermath, the sound dissipates, and your ears become more aware of the silence. And I know there’s a passage in the Psalms that says something like, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Maybe a trumpet does amplify the beauty around us. Jack came backpacking to clear his mind from all the junk and commotion of the everyday. The shofar was blown in ancient times to gather people together. Most of the time, it was a call to prayer. For Jack, blowing the shofar represented a need to audit who he is, what he’s doing, how he’s living, and for whom. It was a call to reflect.

So my own flight to the outdoors this weekend was punctuated many times by Jack tooting his horn. It became part of a meditation. There’s the call. Now hear the silence. And take stock of your life.

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