Sunday, October 15, 2006

390. The long way home

I love when Simhat Torah is on Saturday night and Sunday, because everyone's home from work and it seems like the whole world is having a party. And sometimes they really are. On my way back from last night's many hours of dancing, I passed a Latin American cultural center (housed on the top floor of a building where Thomas Edison first demonstrated moving pictures). A woman was taping a sign to the front door:

O'Brien Party Upstairs
Chag Sameach!

Only in New York.

This afternoon, after the dancing really ended, I stumbled out into the sunlight smack in the middle of a street fair, as happens every year when the holiday falls on an October weekend. Arepas, chimichangas, fried calamari, roasted corn, wholesale socks, heavy knit sweaters from Colombia, silk pillows in the shape of sushi, embroidered shoulder bags with little mirrors sewn on them, antique chests of drawers, beaded earrings, a blues singer on a portable stage in the side of a van, Thai chicken on a stick. A crazy mishmash of life was going on even though time had stopped for five hours inside the Sanctuary while we flew around and around in joyous circles, holding each other's hands and embracing Torah scrolls to our hearts. But I wasn't unnerved by the crowds--they were just like us, having enormous fun. No one yelled into cell phones or rushed to the subway; people meandered, instead, under the crisp blue sky, kids chasing each other underfoot, and I wove in between everyone and took the long way home. I recently learned that Hassidic rabbis declared my favorite line of this service--of all services--the most important, ever. I shivered when I heard it last night, but this morning it passed by quickly, with little fanfare. I was momentarily upset--wait, stop, I need to savor my awe!--but then realized that's how God generally works. Miracles happen quietly all around us; we blink and they're gone, but another is sure to follow. This year's marathon of holy days is over, but lots of glorious, ordinary daily life will take its place. I just have remember to pay attention.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That was really beautiful, aa. This year seems to been devoid of miracles for me, but I don't know now... maybe a few months or years down the road, I'll be able to look back on all this and see it for what is truly was and is...