Saturday, October 8, 2011

I brought friends to Kol Nidre in Bath, Maine

Never Done: I brought friends to Kol Nidre in Bath, Maine

It was the last day of the Never Done year, and I felt like doing something really big -- Extreme Never Done. But also, it was absolutely gorgeous weather -- the first gorgeous weather of our vacation -- and truly, all I wanted to do was be outside, walk in the woods, sit on the rocks, look at the river. Also, I had to clean the gutters, go to the dump, start the process of closing the house up for the winter. And so, with the benefit of a year's practice and reflection, I decided not to worry about finding an amazing Never Done activity, and to just let the day unfold.

And it did unfold. I felt a little sad that my time here was ending, and I also felt grateful for the time I had, and I also enjoyed the air and the sun and the scent of balsam fir. For the loons on the river, the bald eagle soaring, and leaves just starting to turn.

And as the day unfolded, I was in touch with my friends in Brunswick -- a mom and a 10-year-old -- who have never been to Kol Nidre service. (The boy has never been to shul.) I invited them to join us, and they accepted the invitation, and so at the end of the beautiful day, we met for organic local burgers in Bath, ME for my pre-fast meal (I was the only one of the three fasting. Our friends are not observant, and Josh, having recently been sick, was encouraged not to tax his body in that way.

And then we went to the shul I've been going to for the High Holidays for many years now -- an egalitarian congregation called Beth Israel. The part I want to mention is that it was my first time bringing a young person with me to shul, which I thoroughly enjoyed. He was completely focused, he sang along, he read the transliterated Hebrew, he asked questions -- he was so absorbent! And just at the point that we were coming up to the part that I personally find to be the heart of the service, and I leaned over and whispered that to his mother, he asked me if I could accompany him to the bathroom.

The part I loved about this was that even though it was the heart of the service for me, I was not at all torn about leaving to help him out. In fact, it felt like a perfect request at a perfect moment -- because in this year in which I thought I would have my own child by yom kippur, I welcomed the reminder that I have started to think like a parent, and have started to balance my own desires and focus against those of someone younger. In essence, I took the request as a gift, and not an interruption or a disappointment. And also, it was a reminder that even though I didn't get where I wanted to get -- to actually be a parent by now -- I have laid a lot of groundwork, and will be more ready when it does eventually happen that if it had happened sooner.

What a perfect end to this year.

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