apres Yom Kippur


So it is the next day, four hours after the nine-year-old at our break-fast blew the shofar to signal the end of the fast. I suppose we are all written in the book of life, since we (me, L, the people who were at the break-fast) haven't keeled over yet. How comforting it must be to really believe that whew, I get to live for sure for another year. No hits by lightning, no car crashes, no flower pots falling from window sills. (The college friend of my high school friend P lost a sister to a falling flower pot. A terrible and ridiculous way to die.) Who by fire... Etc. etc. And after you clean up after a party, it's like the end of The Cat in the Hat. There was once chaos and now it's all tidied up. That in itself is a miracle. All of us here in this room are going to die, said E, who I just met. I told her I didn't think about the people who used to live here. I don't think about their ghosts or what they went through in this house. Why not? Because I can't begin to imagine them. I don't even know their names. I would need something to go on.

The services I went to for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah are informal, where you can wear whatever you want, and there were all kinds of combinations of white and white, because that's the color you're supposed to wear for the holidays. Last night I wondered hwo I would have reacted if there had been services like this when I was growing up. Would I have embraced the synagogue because everything was fun? Because I liked to dance and sing and play drums? Probably. But there was nothing like this in Houston. I learned Friday night that Yom Kippur is one fo the two most joyous days of the year. It is not supposed to be somber. It was a holiday of drifting. You'd drift in and out of the sanctuary, the room behind the sanctuary which was no longer separated by an accordian partition, glide into the bathroom, go back out to sit in chairs in the hallway to complain about being hungry, slip back into the sanctuary to whisper during the service. The place was too damned big to feel like your voice mattered during the songs. So now I go to the small place, and what if over time it becomes large, so large that it starts to feel institutional and impersonal? Then someone will branch off and start a new group and it will grow and so on and so forth.

Plant a garlic clove, said the rabbi Friday night. Plant a lot of them and in the spring you'll have garlic. Plant your soul and you will reap later. Or something along those lines.

[garlic plant]

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