It was the last weekend of the summer, and we seized the opportunity to visit my parents in Toronto. After a beautiful Shabbat together, we decided to break up our long drive home by stopping midway.
That is how we found ourselves driving along the serene country roads leading to Watkins Glen State Park in the New York Finger Lakes region. My husband had read that it had a reputation of leaving visitors spellbound by its natural beauty and awe.
The Glen is only 2 miles long, but its stream descends 400 feet, winding over and under waterfalls. Hiking on the main gorge trail, which includes 19 waterfalls, we were not disappointed, and couldn’t believe the stunning views at every bend.
We kept snapping pictures, sure that we didn’t want to miss the picturesque view only to find one even more gorgeous as we continued along the stone walkways over bridges and through tunnels. We could have stayed all day, but realized we better head home if we were to arrive before midnight.
What made the views so astounding was the stream of water cutting through the Gorge. The steep drop creates a powerful torrent that eroded the underlying rock at different rates and left behind a staircase of waterfalls, breathtaking cascades and pools of water.
As my husband, two daughters and I walked over and under the waterfalls, we reflected on the power of the continuous water stream to bend and reshape hard stone. It reminded us of the story of the 40-year-old illiterate shepherd who was inspired by droplets of water that created a deep hole on a huge stone. He wondered if it was too late for his own stony heart to be softened by studying the wisdom of the Torah. Akiva the shepherd became the great Rabbi Akiva, the wisest scholar of his day, who had 24,000 pupils, and often told them that it was a drop of water that changed his life.
We’ve just experienced a month overflowing with the rush of one long continuous spiritual high. Our days were crammed with the awe-inspiring and joyous holidays throughout the month of Tishrei. Many of us may have made resolutions of positive change that we hope to introduce into our lives, to keep up the connection and inspiration throughout the year.
But then we enter into the mundanity of the day-to-day, and somehow those resolutions feel lame. The spiritual highs have been replaced by the drudgery of paying bills and trudging through a routine of far too long to-do lists.
So, perhaps now would be a good time to remember the lesson of the dripping water.
Seemingly small, continuous meaningful acts do matter. A soft drip-drop, consistently applied over time, can puncture the mundane terrain.
And create astounding beauty.
Wishing you a beautiful week ahead!