GETTING OFF THE BEATEN PATH

GETTING OFF THE BEATEN PATH
by Miriam
Chaya
The day before Erev Yom Kippur, I was riding my bike in Tilden Park and I got lost. I wandered from the beaten path and was confused. I walked over to the bank on the side of the road to rest, but I lost my footing and fell flat on my face. I lay in a prostrated position for more than a half hour before I attempted to move. I felt a warm wetness on my upper lip and struggled to get a tissue out of my pocket to wipe my face. I was surprised to see that my lip was bleeding. The impact of the fall knocked the wind out of me. I lay on the ground trying to recover from the shock of the fall. Suddenly I realized that I was totally alone in a remote part of the woods. I could be here for hours and no one would rescue me. I shouted out, "Hello" over and over, but no one responded. I wasn't afraid because the ground was holding me and I felt secure. I imagined someone finding me unconscious days later in the same position. I knew that I had to get up. I tried to move, but I was wobbly. I rested more then finally got to my feet. I called out "Hello" again and saw a couple walking on the beaten path. I asked them to help me, but the man wanted to continue going in a different direction. He told me that I was fine and they left me on my own. Still, I had not learned the lesson to stay on the beaten path . I followed the signs to the visitor center which said no bikes. Struggling to lift my bike across fallen logs, through pits and up endless stairs, I searched to find my way. I kept thinking that around the corner I would find the beaten path. After many twists and turns I found a well travelled road. A tiny arrow pointed to The Visitor's Center. I turned left to find a fork in the road. Again, another decision. Which way to go? I saw a fence at the top of the left path so I followed it and came to a large pen at The Little Farm where a cow was eating celery and lettuce from a little child. I followed the path leading to the father and child, the path of family. As I came closer, a short woman with long black hair looked up. Her eyes were filled with surprise when she saw me. "Is my face spattered with blood?" I asked. Her eyes softened and she said, "Yes it is. Do you need any help?" I nodded yes and the father of the child offered to take my bike and walk me to the Visitor's Center where we found the park ranger. "Thank you for your kindness" I said looking him in the eye. "It's nothing," he said. I smiled in gratitude when I thought of the people I had met in the woods who walked away from me when I asked for help. David Zukerman was the park ranger. He greeted me warmly and took me to his first aid station I wanted to see what I looked like before he cleaned me up.so I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. What a shock to see blood splattered all over my nose, my cheek, my lip and my forehead. I couldn't believe my eyes. After he cleaned up my face he asked me if I wanted him to call 911. I said, " No. I do not want to go to the Emergency room. I'm fine" I insisted. After asking me a few questions, I signed a release. "I will put your bike in my truck and drive you to your car. Do you think that you can drive?" I assured him that I would be fine. I thanked him and drove home. When I got home, I went right to bed to rest. I was dizzy and disoriented. After two hours I got up and went to my improv acting class where I acted out my accident and told the story with lots of gestures, including falling on the ground. Everyone laughed as I demonstrated each stair I climbed and each log I dragged my bike over. I was re-experiencing what had happened. When I woke the next day, I could not get out of bed. The room was turning and I was dizzy. I slept most of the day and forced myself to get out of bed in the evening to go hear Kol Nidre. As I stood on the Bima in the synagogue holding the Torah and listening to Kol Nidre,I could feel the presence of our holy community surrounding me. I felt like they were wrapping their arms around me and channeling love. The voices of Sofie, Uriel, and Ariel were like angels as they sang the Kol Nidre prayers. I closed my eyes and felt my soul transcend to a higher place. I thanked God for guiding me on my path and bringing me home to my holy community and a safe place of refuge.