A few paragraphs about last week's Shabbat, which I tried to sit down and write over the past couple of days. I stopped myself each time. How boring, I thought. How often can I bear to hear myself say I'm spiritually happy? What new words on the topic can I discover that might be interesting to read and write? Strife makes for much better copy that contentedness; I turn the to the "Trouble" section of People magazine before I get to "Hero of the Week."
I bet a poll of global media would reveal twice as many syllables about struggle than happiness. So, despite my reluctance, I might as well try to even the balance. Last Friday began with a trip to the dentist, lots of drilling, and so much Novocaine that I couldn't eat breakfast until 3 in the afternoon. (Wait, that's not a happy sentence. I'm getting there.) I was exhausted and had a cold, and needed to get my act together in time to help lead the mediation service. I wondered how things would go, me with a headache and half a voice, the rabbi arriving directly from an emotionally difficult event. But it was wonderful. The room was small, and I could pick out that exact instant when people recognized my chosen tunes and, as if jumping into a wave and letting it float them beyond the shoreline, began to sing along. The rabbi spoke of peace and healing; every word unknotted another muscle in my back.
On Shabbat morning I read the tongue-twister paragraph and did just fine, was barely nervous at all. Afterwards a woman I didn't know, a rabbinical student, came over and told me that she had been a fan for two years and I was the best reader she ever heard. I walked out of services feeling like Shabbat was a shield, a big, embracing bubble that lasted exactly one day a week. I never felt so safe in all my life.