Sometimes you have to tune out all the news stories, major themes of current events, media trends and what not-- and just focus on nature. Weather. Plants and animals. The sky. Bodies of water in all sizes and forms.

Shabbat is a particularly appropriate time to tune into nature and tune out modern day aggravation, but it is not easy. Especially if it's early morning on Shabbat.

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Saturday morning I was fast asleep, along with millions of other New Yorkers, Shabbat observant and otherwise. In my section of Brooklyn, just before 5:30AM, I was awakened by rounds of the fierce thunder and piercing flashes of lightning. I couldn't recall the last time I had heard such loud, powerful shots of thunder. They were sonorous. They were seemingly of Biblical proportion! If you think this is hyperbole, ask a group of New Yorkers, as well as people in Suffolk County, Long Island.

The thunder woke me up but I was not too frightened, nor too aggravated. In fact I was curious, in awe of the sound and depth of it. Perhaps if it was a weekday and I knew I'd have to get up soon and go to work, then I would have been angrier about being awakened too early. But it was a Saturday morning, and Shabbat, so I was part of the audience and wondering what would happen next.

Everyone in my family woke up, all four of us, and we each paid a visit to the bathroom in our own time. I looked at a clock and saw that it was 5:29AM. Back in bed, I heard the thunder apparently moving away from our neighborhood to another. It was as if a giant walked in our area and was making its way elsewhere.

No doubt some people and pets were frightened by these massive noises. Our friend Sarah told us that her doggie Schroeder woke up and was upset. Some of my friends told me later in the day that they had going back to sleep. Fortunately I did return to slumberland, and I dreamed I was taking photographs on nearby Avenue J.

Later this evening I looked on the web for some inspirational tidbits about thunder. I noticed that Aish.com had an essay titled "The Wonder of Thunder." That's a great, if slightly corny title. Yes, thunder can scare but it also has a sense of wonder to it. And the extremely loud, potent thunder of this Shabbat was pretty remarkable. Full of wonder. Nature calling attention to itself. And nature making us pay attention to it.

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