The holidays are really, truly over, and this is the first Sunday in a month that I haven't prayed, sang, ate, sang, prayed, rinse and repeat. Yesterday I chanted Torah (from Genesis, what a relief; a story instead of a tongue-twisting list of animals I never heard of), so I don't even have that to practice and distract me from reality. But as if to taunt me--just a little more, OK?--there's a street fair right outside my building, same one as happened a few blocks downtown last Sunday when I emerged from Simhat Torah services. I can't luxuriate in the flashback; I need to work today, because exhaustion and a stomach bug finally got the best of me and I'm way behind in everything except post-Yom Kippur promises, plans, and self-doubt.
This Shabbat, as I enjoyed plain, old, ordinary Friday evening services, I realized I had been in the Sanctuary once a day--sometimes twice--for eight in a row. Services last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; the first of this year's Me'ah classes (and a fascinating discussion about the history of Islam); a volunteer orientation meeting; a meditation class; chanting Torah at morning minyan. And then Shabbat again on Friday. (Saturday was still Shabbat, but at the church instead.) This is not usual; I do have a life apart from my synagogue. But that space makes me want to stay--the eccentric high ceiling, deep red carpet with little squares that look electric in the right light, white-on-white textures of Hebrew letters on the wall next to swirling Moorish circles, Ark dressed in jeweled ribbons of blue and gold. A grand room, softly lit, that feels small, full and safe even when empty. A wedding, a bris, a business meeting, a political rally, my first time chanting Torah, my first time leading services, tears, fear, laughter, anger, sighs, pain (when I showed up too soon after surgery), discovery, confusion, love: my world seems to be reflected on its walls, perhaps as practice for what happens outside them.