In the sixteenth century, kabbalists living in Safed developed an elaborate ritual for welcoming the Sabbath. Dressed in white garments, they would leave the city limits and go into the fields, singing psalms and the mystical song “Lekhah Dodi.”
Today we think of Jewish prayer as something that happens in synagogue, usually in a large group. But it doesn’t have to be that way. According to the Midrash, when Isaac‘s wife Rebecca first came to his house, she found him praying outside, in the fields. The Hasidic master Rabbi Nahman of Breslov used to regularly meditate by speaking to God in the woods.
Of course, we don’t all live near the woods. But we can still tap into the meaning of this practice. Both physically and mentally, when we go to pray or meditate or reflect, we can leave behind our worries and worldly cares.