Wednesday, March 30, 2005

41. Travel agent, part 5

A crisis ensued. There just aren't many large spaces in Manhattan where you can stuff a few thousand people who plan to have a religious experience. The synagogue decided to split the enormous lot of us into three locations instead of two, and found a local theater to accommodate the spillover. The rabbis were happy, because now they might actually be able see the people they were leading in prayer instead of squinting at them from fifty yards away. But this also meant that a whole new complement of rabbis and cantors had to be identified for the additional location, not just one set but a bunch, because these would be three very long days of multiple services.

Because I could sing and appeared to have a clue about praying, I ended up on a list of members who might be able to help lead, if I wanted to learn how. I would have been less surprised had NASA called to say they were saving a seat for me on the next space shuttle. The needle on my figurative scale of improbable things that might happen in this lifetime went past 11 and then danced back and forth in a frenzy. I thought of the lines from the Shabbat morning liturgy:

Could song fill our mouths as water fills the sea...
Could our lips utter praise as limitless as the sky...
Could we soar with arms like eagle's wings...
Never could we fully state our gratitude

I began to sputter an incoherent, incredulous reply over the phone to the cantor when I suddenly remembered: I couldn't do it. I had already made other plans.

No comments: