Elul 23 5776
There is a king whose palace is open all days of the year to receive his subjects and their petitions, but the process is complicated and the lines are long and not everybody gets to see His Majesty. One month out of the year the king leaves the palace and goes out into the fields and there, the wise ones who know, encounter the king and none are turned away from sharing their needs for improvement.
This is a famous parable, attributed to the Hasidic Alter Rebbe, found of Chabad, who talked about these days of Elul as the days on which the ability and will to change is more accessible to us - because our king is not within the usual confines but out there, where we are, in the field. I don’t resonate with image of King as the quality of the mystery we often address with the shortcut ‘God’. And I’m not sure that there is energy in the world inherently different today than it was a month ago. But I like the story and the notion that to make the most of these days of getting back on track for my best sense of self in the world - it is I who has to get out of the familiar and head to the fields - beyond my known comfort zone. I get to be the king and I get to be the pleading subject and I get to be the field. We all do. Meet each other t/here.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
Rumi knew to leave the safety of the inner palace, take off crown and ego and leap dancing into fields of reunion with the beloved. I imagine him dancing there with the Alter Rebbe and all the rest of us yearning to be more of who we want to be and daring to dance in the wild, even if for just a moment, today.
This urban life can sometimes make me forget about taking a walk in a field, quietly with trees and sky, barefoot on soil. This busy life distracts me from meeting my wildest dreams away from the confining reality of ‘this is it and it won’t change’, the gilded cage of life as we know it, not as we want it to be. I take this day to remember how to get out of my head and my auto pilot patterns and focus on just one way to think outside my own box. I think i’ll meet me and others in a new ways, field work.
Dear field, lure me to the dance. On this 23rd day of Elul, let’s meet you where the trees begin to shed and our leaves leave what no longer matters behind on the branch.
PREPENT: Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie’s annual journey to the new year, with 40 ways in 40 days to reflect, refocus, recharge and restart life. This year features daily love letters inspired by Lab/Shul’s theme for the High Holy Days, “וְאָהַבְתָּ re:love.”
This story "Prepent Day 23: The King in the Fields" was written by Amichai Lau-Lavie.