That morning I had felt hopeful. We had a whole day ahead to reach conclusions and clear consciences. But now it was raining, and in the gathering darkness only one hour remained during which to learn, understand, and make peace. There wasn't enough time.
At the end of Ne'ila in past years I was always relieved and proud to have finished the marathon, as if Yom Kippur was a race. But until this moment I never understood that the day was really about having the strength to stand still, about admitting that we can never actually win in this world but simply learn to love our lives and help others do the same. I looked out at the congregation and was a little frightened; their faces reflected a silent Babel of more kinds of emotion than I could understand. I had no idea what they were trying to say, yet my voice was supposed to represent theirs. I could only be true to myself, and hope my openness would become a vessel. So I sang in desperation, in determination--in anger, not at anyone in particular, or even at God, but at the universe in general for being imperfect and unfair. We were very loud, the rabbi on one side of the bima, booming musaf shaliah on the other, and myself sandwiched in between, as we tried to get God to listen during those final moments.