How is it that the Holy Days always seem to sneak up on me? No matter my practice, no matter my month of Elul rituals, no matter the size of my calendar or the bells, whistles and chimes (not to mention shofar blasts) set to alert me, all of a sudden I find myself like a deer in the headlights facing Rosh Hashanah only days away and I am stunned, so ill prepared am I. Panic overwhelms and paralyzes me. Of course I know the liturgy. The melodies? Well, that’s another story. I feel like every year I make them up new. The heart, soul, kishkes? Well, that’s another story too. Slow preparation doesn’t seem to prompt me to deep examination. At least not in the way running out of time does. 14 years in a row at the same place and despite all those years of practice, a loving congregation and medication to calm my flight response, my performance anxiety is through the roof and I feel completely unprepared and equally unworthy. Melodies twist and turn in my head. Prayers intermingle in my voice. Confidence wanes in my heart. Am I truly prepared to lead these holy people on these sacred days with these hallowed prayers? Who am I?
Why is this year like every other year (sort of the opposite refrain from Passover)? Why can’t I break the cycle? And then something wonderful happened today. I found myself with time on my hands. Thanks in great part to my loving wife, who took the toddler. Free time?! For several hours today I was without responsibility for anything other than my own being and my preparation. A total machayah as Minnie (z”l) would say. I did Creole homework which energized me. And then I simply breathed. With just that little effort of opening up, a whole world of possibilities becomes. I really wish I could remember that. Channels open and ways are cleared and melodies flow like tears. I am ever grateful for this Connection. In the ways of Lojong, I offer myself… breathing in… may all who are stuck and paralyzed by fear find the breath to clear the way…. breathing out.