Sunday, November 20, 2005

223. ...and the morning [part 3]...

(Continued.)

We walked out to the bima and began the service. Between my lingering cold and lack of sleep the night before, thanks to the traditional Muslim fig cake I stayed awake to bake for an interfaith break-fast*, I was exhausted. But I could sing, more or less, and the emotion of the day was much better than water for my parched throat. As the morning continued and I grew tired and hungry, the distance from me to God seemed to diminish. Our conversation began to get personal, even in front of a thousand people. At the U'vechen, the rabbi and I--although we had planned to alternate verses--sang in unison, just like the two male rabbis and cantor a few years earlier. I was able to match her note for note; we sounded like one person, and I could feel the power of many more going through my bones.

A few years ago at a singing workshop, a vocal coach addressed me during a master class. You sound really nice, she said, but something is missing and I don't know how to help you find it. She pointed to her heart. I was upset and confused by her criticism; how was I supposed to become a better singer if she couldn't tell me what was wrong? The whole process seemed a little less fun after that. Questions about the lost, unknown thing were always in the back of my mind.

I thought of the teacher's comment when I went back to sit with the congregation after Shaharit ended. I realized that I had found it, the elusive heart of my voice, the very first time I chanted Torah. It was still fun to sing the music I always loved, the Renaissance motets and weird avant garde French choral pieces, but they now seemed without texture, two-dimensional, a copy of the real thing. This morning that extra force was so strong it seemed to leap out of my chest and alight behind the bima just like another person.



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*My first attempt to bake since the age of 12. It went fine, but the cake was misplaced at the event and is currently in a friend's freezer. So I escaped the risk of my poor domestic skills posing a threat to local interfaith relations.

2 comments:

student said...

...As the morning continued and I grew tired and hungry, the distance from me to God seemed to diminish...

I love this.

Who do you suppose was closing the gap, you or God?

A rhetorical question; no answer needed.

Regina Clare Jane said...

Your vocal coach was very wise, huh? She planted that seed in you, aa... and there was no way she could tell you what was missing- you had to find that out yourself. You did find it- that elusive heart of your voice- and we are the better for it...