I've since learned that many people have problems with the second paragraph of the Shema, which is often omitted at Reform synagogues. I read it even though it sometimes makes no sense, depending upon my current levels of contentment, guilt, or interpretive generosity. I read it because it takes me back to that morning in the cabin. A woman from the kitchen staff, a European college student here for the summer, leans into the doorway and watches us pray. Does she think we're nuts? Or can she sense how hard we're trying to decipher the words, and is she jealous, wanting to be part of the quest? I believe she is. I watch her watching me as I whisper to myself, and am proud to be standing among people who don't know the answers.
The second paragraph of the Shema also makes me think of this line from Hallel, the psalms that are sung on holidays:
"You severely chastened me, but You did not doom me to death."
Even if we fail miserably and the heavens close and the rain dries up, there will always be a second chance.