It was so much fun. I've said this before, I know; it's probably getting a little boring. But I'm no longer nervous when I sit at the bima, surrounded by musicians and people singing, smiling, crying, praying. (OK, maybe a little nervous. But in a good way.) The first few times I helped lead services, I needed to feel the energy of everyone in the room in order to be sure I wouldn't fall. Now my singing not only mirrors their strength, but has grown into an offering that can stand on its own, awaiting with open arms the sounds that return in welcome embrace.
It was great to lead with my old teacher, who doesn't usually get to be in charge (i.e., making announcements, giving a d'var Torah). Together we set tempi and made eye contact with the musicians to indicate when they should speed up or slow down, usually the rabbi's job. It felt a little conspiratorial, like we were kids at play while the adults were away.
This Shabbat my synagogue hosted a dozen rabbis who each spent two years here as part of a fellowship program. One spoke of how the experience taught her to access her true voice, and another of the awesome gift of being allowed to enter the lives and hearts of everyone at services each week. I can in no way compare myself to this brilliant cohort, or to any rabbi, but am continually floored by the honest, beautiful truth of those same lessons each random time I get to sit up front. Last night I saw "The New World," about (among many other things) the experience of Pocahontas as she encountered the Europeans. I feel like her, just a little bit, as I am patiently taught new customs (in this case, my own) by the kindest teachers in the world, and then allowed every once in awhile to partner with them and look through their eyes. I still don't understand why I'm so lucky to have merited this privilege, and hope that it never goes away--I have so much more to learn.