What difference a week makes. When I went back to my friends in the Applegate, everything had change. At the altar in front of the sweat lodge, whose covers had been unfurled, was placed a dead coyote. The people in the house were oddly unfriendly though I brought with me ample food and herb as a offering to their family. The meal they had promised to make for me came late and my friend Rocky only came after the meal was over. Because the fast was quickly approaching, I had to go down below where my car was parked but not before mentioning, how much I looked forward to praying with him.
That was the last time I heard or saw them through the entire fast day. I did not understand their change of attitude and the idea of praying next to a large dead animal was kinda creepy, though there was a canvas separation, plus my car was parked thirty feet away. This seemingly bad omen accompanied by the coldness of my hosts made me wonder. I set up a little platform, using the top from my navy trunk, on the hood of my ’86 Volvo station wagon, where I sleep. I set a prayer rug at the tire facing east and a white cloth I use to cover bread for the Shabot as a cover to hold my Mochzer—a book specially made for Yom Kippur.
For decades, I say this entire book on this holy day but this time, feeling the silent animosity, prayer was difficult. I felt an opposition, as if a spiritual battle was happening before me. At one point in the afternoon, I felt the presence of the Creator and knew I was being blessed. There were times of weakness during the fast and my prayers were more the sound of the words than the intent on their meaning. The power of the Jewish People is in our mouths, so as long as I was intoning these words, I knew I was safe.
The last prayer of Nila is when the door to Heaven open; in the Shuls where Jews congregate, the ark is left open during the prayer—I opened the doors of my car. In the end, I left after dark, going down a long dirt road full of ruts, but he nice thing about living in your car is the ability to leave. I guess I will never understand what was going on there but I did succeed in observing the holiday, which was the main point. The ten days between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur constitute the Head of the Year. Just like the body, where impulses come from head to regulate the body, so too do these ten days seed the rest of the year.
One thing I have learned in my life of wondering from place to place is, When you are alone, God is always there. The worst the situation, the more prominent is the Creator.