(Continued from here.) I realized I never finished writing about the High Holy Days. Perhaps recalling that sacred time will stop me from whining to everyone and his uncle about my cold.)
I walked the ten blocks home after Musaf amazed that the world was still going on, that people rushed and shopped and street vendors hawked tacos and Italian ices even though I was fasting. I felt like I was onstage in a play where the background changed for each scene; it might look like I moved from place to place, but in reality I was quite stationary. Most of me, aside from my actual body, remained in the earlier moments of prayer that had just passed. I nodded hello en route to a dozen equally dazed friends coming back from different shuls.
Back in my apartment, I sat on the couch and picked up the book I had set aside for just these few hours: The Ineffable Name of God: Man, a collection of achingly beautiful poems in Yiddish and English written by Abraham Joshua Heschel when he was in his 20s. I read three pages, was awed, and promptly fell asleep. I awoke with a start and realized my brain could hold no further enlightenment. I sang through Minha once again, instead, and suddenly it was time to go back.
We gathered in the little room next to the church's cavernous sanctuary, the rabbi, musicians, and I, and chatted about TV, cough drops, and other inconsequential topics. Most us didn't have an easy fast; some of us almost fainted. We seemed awfully giddy, considering the imminent culmination of the entire day's drama. Better, I guess, to face God with chutzpah and a smile than be distracted by our own exhaustion while trying to rush past those closing gates.