And so (continuing) we finished the service. I knew I was singing flat, since I pretty much stopped breathing for an hour. I don't remember much about the two hours that followed, as I sat in a daze with the congregation, or the lunch at a friend's house afterwards, where I felt as exhausted as if I'd run a marathon.
On Sunday I awakened to find an email from the rabbi. I won't quote it, since I haven't asked permission to use his words--but to paraphrase, he offered heartfelt congratulations, said it was a pleasure to share the bima with me, and that he was looking forward to doing it again on the holidays.
I was overwhelmed by his graciousness, and that he would take time to thank me. I couldn't imagine finding enough words in the world to thank him, and the universe, for the privilege of that morning. The closest I could come was in one of my favorite parts of the Shabbat service:
Could song fill our mouths as water fills the sea
And could joy flood our tongues like countless waves,
Could our lips utter praise as limitless as the sky
And could our eyes match the splendor of the sun,
Could we soar with arms like eagles' wings
And run with gentle grace, as the swiftest deer,
Never could we full state our gratitude
For one ten-thousandth of the lasting love
Which is your precious blessing, dearest God,
granted to our ancestors and us.
Also: I just learned that I'll be leading Shaharit for both days of Rosh Hashonah as well as Yom Kippur. It's just a little bit less than last year, when plans changed down to the wire and I was asked to lead the Torah service for two of those days. (Which was out of the ordinary; usually that short service is led by the person who does the longer one immediately following. And I also ended up helping out with a third service on Yom Kippur, very unexpected, but I'll get to that part of the story soon...) I'm really glad that I'm needed for the entire holiday. I'll also be sitting in with the choir when not otherwise occupied.