Last Yom Kippur I sat on my couch and wept. What happened to my Jewish life, I wondered. My husband actually went to work. I could have gone to the lovely temple here but I chose not to. I have friends who invited me to their places of worship but I declined. I guess I just hadn’t thought through how doing nothing on the holiest day of the year would feel.

So there I was crying, and weird as it might sound I texted my observant friend Judy: “I’m miserable. Happy Yom Kippur.” To my utter astonishment she texted me back: “You can stream my rabbi now.”

If you ever hear me lecturing on the evils of how modern technology has corrupted our culture you have permission to wag an accusatory finger at me. Because I did in fact stream her rabbi, and it was so beautiful I called my sister in Virginia and she streamed the rabbi and we sat on our collective couches, listening in on a service in a synagogue in New York city.

So here it is Yom Kippur again — and again I am not sitting in the burgundy velvet seats, listening to the hidden choir up above and watching the davening old men of my youth. The ritual of Tashlich at Rosh Hashanah, throwing bread crumbs into the water, naming my sins one by one, and setting the intention for next year that I will live my true self jump starts my season. But Yom Kippur deepens my life.

And I have no plan.

I can hear my orthodox grandparents: How could you not be in shul (synagogue) on the most spiritual day of the year.

I drive to one of my favorite trail walks on the Vineyard, and the second I step foot in the woods I have a memory from when my son Dan was bedridden and had been for a long, long time. Dan was sick with MS for 16 years. Often when I went down to his house, we would watch a movie and then we’d talk and then I’d read to him and all would be well. At other times he would be so miserable and angry that I would spend the time reassuring him that what he was doing was impossible, and that most people wouldn’t be able to keep their humor and their sweetness, and who knows what cures were down the pike. But on the day in question he greeted me with very dark energy and these words: “I’m done. I’m finished. I’m not going to do this anymore.” I swallowed hard and said, what does that mean, you’re done. He said “I quit. I’m finished. I quit life.” I said I had to go out and take a walk and process this. I ran out of his house and into the nearby woods. I kept running until I couldn’t run anymore. Then, huffing and puffing, completely out of breath and sobbing, I finally stopped and looked around. I just stood there in complete silence. And I heard, I swear, I heard the trees actually speaking. I heard the words: “Follow his lead, Mother, follow his lead.” I walked slowly back, repeating the message. I told Dan when I got into his room how the trees had given me the advice, the wisdom and way through I had needed. I said Dan, they told me to follow your lead. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to follow your lead. Dan looked at me with such gratitude. I will never forget that look. And in a very sober voice, he said thank you.

A few days later he popped back into his charming, funny and almost-surrendered self.

So here I am, walking up a steep hill in the middle of the most beautiful every-shade-of-green-possible woods, and I think, maybe I even say thank you. Then I say to myself, who are you thanking? God? The trees? Dan? And then I think, does it matter who I’m thanking as long as I am thanking. And then I realize my grandparents were from another time. I don’t need a synagogue. I don’t need a choir. I don’t even need those ancient men swaying to the minor key music. I am in my temple. I am with my teachers, the trees.

If I were to send a text this year it would have to say: “Dear Judy, I’m in the woods. Happy Yom Kippur.”

Nancy Aronie lives in Chilmark.