September 9, 2010 was Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year, and no synagogue, shul nor temple could provide a comparable setting for our morning services. There by a small, still pond closely surrounded by sturdy red cedar trees and in the distance by protective and magnificently sculptured rock formations, we unfolded our blue camping chairs and placed them into the warming sand as we basked in glorious sunshine. As we opened our prayer book, less than thirty feet in front of us stood the rest of the congregation; a young buck with immature antlers, two does, and a delicate fawn who stood half the size of the others.
They were ever alert as they approached the pond for a sip of water. Then they saw us, observed us, and accepted us as fellow congregants who would do them no harm. Perhaps they somehow knew that only compassion and understanding would be our righteous way to start the new year. On page 103 of our prayer book we arrived at a passage that read; “Could we soar with arms like eagle’s wings, and run with the swiftest grace of gentle deer.”
As if being cued by their director, at that moment the two does ran off through the woods and into the meadow with one chasing the other, and although no eagles soared, three mallards gracefully landed on the pond and drifted to the spot where the deer once sipped. All too soon they departed and our morning service ended. I was at peace with the world and with myself in this majestic edifice of worship within Yosemite.
Win Three Print Issues of The Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator
The first three people who send us the correct answer to the following question will receive the next three printed issues of The Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator. Why was J. D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye entitled The Catcher in the Rye? You’ll find the answer on page 173 of the 1964 edition published by Bantam Books that cost me 75¢ at the time.