So I sat on the sofa and waited. The rabbis and cantor finally arrived about a minute before the service was to begin, as I wrote about here, and made casual conversation as I sat frozen in a state somewhere between nervousness and terror. The rational part of my brain knew I'd do fine, and really wanted to savor and be fully present for the wonderful hour sure to follow. The rest of my brain felt like it was about to jump off a very high cliff.
The cantor left to sit behind his keyboard, and the other two rabbis to join the congregation until they needed to come back up front for second half of the service. The rabbi I was leading with--the same one whose drumming and smiling at the singles' retreat convinced me that this community was worth checking out--draped his tallit over his head for a moment and said a prayer, and then wrapped it around his shoulders.
"Ready?" he asked.