It's been awhile, I know.
My brain was on vacation. I didn't realize this was the case until until a few weeks passed and I found myself doing things I'd put off for years--cleaning out closets (I'm pretty organized, but it was time to throw out those cancelled checks to the gas co. from 1985), writing long-overdue thank-you notes, thinking about creating art the old-fashioned, way, with my hands and paint. I love to write, but it's OK to take a rest every once in awhile.
Then yesterday I chanted the same whopping, tongue, tongue-twisty section as three years ago, but without the added drama of the cantor stopping me before the maftir to tell me he had given me the wrong verses... no interruptions this time around. (A little unintended excitement, however, that only two of us knew about: the wife of my long-ago ex- came back for a visit and was given an aliyah when I read. We eyed each other in wary, cordial shock, and I didn't miss a beat.) Parashat Re'eh always feels like the last hurrah, summer almost over and the next thing about to happen. The d'var Torah was about preparing to prepare--Elul, the month that ushers in the High Holy Days, is half a week away--and it occurred to me that writing would be a good way to get ready for whatever that next thing may be. Something is always coming, it's true; the new year is just a marker in that stream. But a good and useful one.
I also got some news on Friday that started my blood circulating again. I will in fact be helping to lead for the holidays, three services instead of four, because we're at two venues instead of three, but no complaints. The prospect of a morning of Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur without standing at the bima and singing Shaharit, after five years of doing so, had gotten me very depressed and holding my breath the same way I did for most of 2006 after losing my voice (feh, p'tooie, evil eye, begone) the year before. (And, yes, I now feel kind of silly for worrying.) The schedule is a feat of genius, spreadsheet gymnastics of fairness and sensitivity, all the laypeople who led in years past still doing the parts we love. I won't be leading Minha on Yom Kippur, at times the most spiritually intense part of the day for me--but I will gladly trade that for the experience of singing HaMelekh in a massive marvel of Gothic architecture while trying not to notice an 80-foot stained-glass window of Jesus and Mary. I was last in this place seven years ago, sitting in the front row of the balcony and marveling at the hazzanit's beautiful, honest voice, wondering what it would feel like to be in her shoes. Now I'll find out.
I think I'm finally ready to start to be ready.