In four years of traveling the country for JTA, and as a reasonably devoted customer of United Airlines, I’ve spent more than my fair share of time in the Denver airport. But yesterday, shortly after 2:00, I stepped outside the terminal for the first time into the blazing Denver sunshine.

This comes as no surprise, but this place is huge. There are the mountains of course, in whose shadow everything seems diminished. But the horizons, they just go on forever. Even the skyscrapers of downtown Denver feel like miniatures. In New York, you can look down from the 50th floor and feel like you’re a Master of the Universe. The effect is quite the opposite here. Humility is in the air.

I’m only here for one day, but both stories I’m working on connect to the spiritual potential of a landscape like this. On the grounds of the Denver Academy of Torah, I met two Jewish farmers who have reclaimed a few acres of the city for a community garden. And in the afternoon, I hiked in the hills above Boulder with Jamie Korngold, aka The Adventure Rabbi, who has attracted a ton of press for her work combining Judaism with the great outdoors.

Both Korngold and the farmers talked almost identically about restoring the Jewish connection to nature, about how our ancestors were shepherds, how the Torah was given in the wilderness. With the overwhelming bulk of the world’s Jews clustered in the world’s largest metropolises, I suppose that’s something we can stand to be reminded of.

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