Saturday, November 26, 2005

228. ...was the tenth day.

(Continued, from this and this).

I sat with my friends for Musaf. Swathed in many different kinds of white fabric, I felt safe, secure, and compelled to purify my soul in order to match the example set by my garments. I drew my tallit over my head during the Amidah and under its shelter, hidden from people, I cried and prayed that I might be more visible than ever to God. At the Aleinu Malhuyot the rabbi invited us to follow the custom of our grandparents and observe the true intent of the line "while we kneel, bow, and give thanks." I had always been too self-conscious, and a little afraid, to lie down, to prostrate myself; the gesture seemed like overacting when performed by non-rabbis, and also too powerful to bear. But this time I did it, along with a dozen others at the front of the sanctuary. When it came time to stand, there seemed to be a weight on my back forcing my forehead to the floor. I needed more than a moment of humility. But the service continued and so, shaking, I got up.

I walked home in the rain, and sat on the sofa and stared into space for an hour. I practiced the Havdalah service one more time; I was afraid I'd forget the words to "Hatikvah," the Israeli national anthem that I should have known by heart but didn't, and which closes the whole proceedings after the lights come back on. Then, tired, hungry, sated, alone, together, spent, filled, confused, and completely clear about what I still needed to do, I walked the few blocks to the theater to help lead Ne'ila, the closing service of Yom Kippur.

2 comments:

Glory said...

...When it came time to stand, there seemed to be a weight on my back forcing my forehead to the floor. I needed more than a moment of humility...

This is gorgeous, and it might interest you to know that I have experienced an almost identical moment.

alto artist said...

Wow...
--aa.