I kind of expected the rabbis to sit in the Secret Rabbi Room before services meditating and listening for the Voice of God. In fact, they arrived a minute beforehand (which did not help my blood pressure the first time I helped lead, wondering if it really was Saturday morning or if I had made some colossal mistake and the universe was now operating on a different schedule that no one bothered to tell me about), made small talk, discussed the service for a moment or two, enjoyed each other's company. They had, after all, already spent days discussing this week's installment of the Voice with each other. Now they could relax.
At first I felt like an intruder in that room. How did I merit entrance into their private space? What right did I have to sit on their sofa? Would I even be here if they knew how much I didn't know? But I think they knew, and it didn't seem to matter. They wished me Shabbat shalom, smiled and made me laugh. They had done this thousands, tens of thousands of times; it was the most important part of the week but, all things considered, not a big deal. Nor was my presence here, despite my alternating fantasies of doom and grandiosity.
I have no trouble taking chances, but have never chosen to go skydiving, which this felt like. If you treat a person like she can do something, then she will. Their trust in me was better than a dozen parachutes.