Feeling a little spiritually depleted, I made the plan to attend Shabbat services in person. I abandoned my dependence on Zoom, needing to be with people joined together in prayer. To catch the eyes of friends I have not seen, share loving smiles with those who have suffered losses or in need of comfort, and to get lost in my own prayers, the melodies and the ancient words of our people. It was a small group but the connection was palpable. Throughout the service, one of our rabbis would join me and then towards the end, Cantor Zell sat next to me and invited me to stay for the Kumzitz. Honestly, I had no idea what she said or what it meant, so I politely smiled and declined. In turn, Cantor Zell politely responded, See you there. Where? Right here. I was not properly dressed for stretching or breathing deeply, neither of which I love doing in a crowd, and then the rest of the excuses started to take shape. Yet after services, I didn’t leave. I wanted to feel something new, different, deeper and thought this was a moment.
We sat in a small circle and Ryan Leszner led us on this journey. In truth, the initial buzzing and humming was odd, and closing my eyes to find inner peace isn’t necessarily my thing. It reminded me of being in a meditation class and knowing I was likely the only one who, not finding the Zen, was imagining what was for dinner, attacking my to do list, and all the things that keep me from being mindful. So, I planned my exit strategy while all eyes were closed. But as the sun set, giving way to the beauty of the reflection of the sanctuary in those glass panels, our voices began to find a rhythm. There was an energy created by our collective voices without words that was more powerful than my distractions. We chanted a nigun and prayed for peace. As we gained momentum and our voices connected, it was clear that the depth of my emotions was based in having found that deeply quiet yet profound place in your soul where you truly feel you are praying from the purest place in your heart. As tears rolled down my cheeks, I realized they represented the exhale of some breaths that we often hold in for too long.