This morning at services I made a mistake involving the choreography of the Torah service--not a big one, but there was a short pause as a result when there shouldn't have been. The rabbi was annoyed, in the nicest possible, instructive way, but annoyed nevertheless. I felt awful, even after I reminded myself many times over that I am human, mistakes are a part of life, my apology was graciously accepted, I learned something new and that's a good thing, and so forth. I still felt awful.
The reader before me did a perfect job, and I had an uncharacteristic moment of panic as I listened to her. I had learned this portion quickly--maybe it hadn't jelled? What if I forgot everything as soon as I got up to the bima? I knew this was very silly, and I wouldn't forget. Unless I did.
But all went well. I love reading Torah, and love everyone involved in creating its surrounding theater. I even love the letters on the parchment, and this morning noticed how happy they looked, the casual, jaunty shapes of their angles and curves just hanging out, waiting to be sung. How silly! I thought--but it made me smile and forget my nerves.
Not entirely, however, nor quite enough to plan a few moments ahead in time. Even after all these years, I sometimes wish there were printed stage directions sitting next to the scroll--stand; step back; no, not now; stay put. I wish I could act as if little were at stake, this is just a walk in the park, while also delighting completely in the drama and glow of the moment. I need to remember the pure restfulness of Shabbat whenever I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of standing in front of everyone, of trusting my memory, of doing my best to honor my rabbis and friends and, yes, the memories of all those people I still want to make proud even though they are no longer on this earth. It is all good, it is all miraculous, and I think God would like me to chill out and have fun even if I happen to screw up.