Friday, February 27, 2009

Psalm 126

הַזֹּרְעִים בְּדִמְעָה בְּרִנָּה יִקְצֹרוּ
הָלוֹךְ יֵלֵךְ, וּבָכֹה נֹשֵׂא מֶשֶׁךְ-הַזָּרַע:
בֹּא-יָבֹא בְרִנָּה נֹשֵׂא, אֲלֻמֹּתָיו

Y'all know this verse from Psalm 126, even if you can't read the Hebrew.

"Those who sow in tears will reap in joy.
Though they go on their way weeping that they bear the measure of seed, they shall come home with joy, bearing their sheaves."

These words have been running through my mind in the last couple of weeks.
Weeks that have tested my strength and will in ways I never imagined.

Nothing is actually all that terrible; I've caught some mice, I'm working hard to keep my apartment as clean as I can so they stay away, I've been singing well and working hard in school, and I'm heading to Boston this weekend to visit a good friend.

For whatever reason, it's been hard to kick this funk that I've been in, and hard to find a way to appreciate New York City again. I'm trying really, really hard, which I think might actually be a part of the problem. Sometimes trying too hard results in exhaustion, which is easy enough to come by in a city like NYC. I'm playing with the idea that I might never be happy with New York, but it might be possible to find happiness within it. We'll see if I can strike that balance eventually.

For now, I just think of these times as the seeds I have to row in tears.
Knowing without a doubt that eventually I will reap in joy that will be sweeter than any joy I've experienced before.
And that confidence keeps me going, along with my good friends and amazing family.

For whatever reason, I used to think that the Bible was something people needed to turn to in times of real trouble: sickness, war, life-changing bad events, etc. I've learned that there is no shame in finding comfort from the words on the page, and from the belief that God really will take care of those of us sowing in tears, for reasons large and/or small. I know my life is nothing to be complaining about right now in comparison to others I know who are fighting illness or financial woes. I've come to realize, however, that the point of the Bible is to help those of us who need it, despite how big or small our problems may be.

Even if that help just comes from the ability to cry things out, or smile in relief.

Thank you all for your love and kind words in the last few weeks. You have no idea how much you've helped.
I'll be out of this soon, I promise.

For now, I'm gonna keep on keepin' on.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Rough Times

I'm not gonna lie--it's been a rough couple of weeks around here.

As the days pass by, I grow to hate New York City more and more and more.
I've wondered if what I've chosen to do with my life is worth putting up with this city that I hate for 3 1/2 more years.
I've spent more time contemplating the rabbinical program in Cincinnati. At least then I'd be closer to home, in an environment that is so much more ME, with Steph and Nicole and others who love me.
Except I'd be studying a field I'm not passionate about, and I'd graduate with a piece of paper that says I can do something I don't really want to be doing.

It's been a rough couple of weeks. Between mice in my apartment that I can't catch, being chewed out by a professor on music I thought I knew well, making a fool out of myself several times in classes (which is why I should never speak up or volunteer myself to do things) and continuously trying and failing to keep up with the pace and rudeness and one-sided people in New York, I'm almost at the end of my rope.

I've also discovered that mice terrify me.
That my living space, the one place that always used to offer me peace and calm, is no longer what it used to be.
I've been scared out of my mind to be at home, for fear of finding a mouse on one of the glue traps and then having to kill it myself and get it out of the apartment.
Because that's what the exterminator said I had to do.
But I am equally scared of being on the streets of New York, alone and fed up with the never-ending tension.
I have no safe space besides HUC, and this week, it hasn't been such a safe space.

It took every ounce of courage I had to not run out of the chapel in tears the other day, when I couldn't sing more than a few measures without doing something very wrong.
But I didn't run out. I kept going, even though I never did sing the pieces the way the professor wanted me to.

I guess that's what you have to do sometimes.
Just keep going even when you know it's not right.
Because maybe, just maybe, a small piece of it IS right.
Or maybe, it just isn't right for that particular period of time, and it can only get better.

Very deep down, I know I'm supposed to be here.
And deep down, I know it will all be worthwhile.

I'm trying really hard to be positive and look forward to all the exciting things that await me this week.
My Feldenkrais lesson on Monday.
My guitar lesson on Tuesday.
My voice lesson on Friday.
No work this week.
Seeing my girls every day, laughing with them, forgetting for a second how much I hate it here.
My coaching with Benjie--where we'll work on my nusach for comps--which helps me feel like less of a nusach disaster, like I actually have a shot in hell of actually passing my exams.

I'm going to go work on my 2-3 grade curriculum for my Cantor as Educator class, because it's what I need to do today.

Happy Valentine's Day.
Shabbat shalom.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Night of Hope and Learning

Some of you probably remember the story of Tikva, the daughter of my friends Dave (a rabbinical student) and Gal. Sadly, she passed away on August 7, just shy of turning 2 months old, of complications from a congenital diaphragmatic hernia diagnosed in-utero while we were all in Israel together.

To honor her life and the Hope and Love she brought into the world, our entire 2nd year class had a stateside-campus wide night of hope and learning. Each campus shared a teaching written by Dave himself and had a faculty member make a presentation on the Jewish views on hope. We also shared stories, songs and of course good food with each other, and took a break from our all-too-busy schedules to enjoy each other's company for an evening. I was honored as being one of the chairpersons for the NYC event.

As soon as I heard this event would take place, I started thinking about the perfect song to honor Tikva and her life. However, after searching high and low I knew the perfect song didn't exist and we'd either have to go without or find someone to write it. I was blessed to sing a piece written by Cantor Jonathan Comisar on a friend's recital, and I knew the second I heard it that Jonathan's songwriting would be the perfect compliment to our night of learning. Right before our winter break, I pulled him aside to ask if he would be interested in writing a song for the event. He was quick to say yes, and took the time to learn about Tikva and her family through Dave and Gal's blogs. He then went to work writing the PERFECT song for the evening; it was a fantastic and beautiful way to end our night of hope and learning, and I am both thrilled and honored to have had a small part in the creation and singing of this piece.

Sadly, I wasn't able to come for the entire evening, as my plane from Detroit had engine troubles and returned to Detroit halfway through the flight (it was a South Bend weekend.) I am thankful that I was able to come for what I could and share the song that Jonathan so beautifully wrote.

Please ignore my babble in the beginning (at some point in time my public speaking skills MUST be improved...any suggestions on how to do this?) and my horrible singing. I'd just come back to the city, after hours of traveling and 3 different airplanes.

These are the opportunities I am the most grateful for, where I know that, despite mistakes, I am giving my truest-self to my community. It was an honor to be touched by Tikva's life and the joy and beauty that came along with it.

Please enjoy the video, and say a prayer for a r'fua sh'lema--a complete healing--of the souls of my sweet friends Dave and Gal as their hearts continue to mend after their heartbreak.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

There comes a time in the life of every New Yorker where she has to face the inevitable...

A mouse.

In her apartment.

Crawling around in her trash, her food, her oven, God knows what.

That particular New Yorker has to travel to South Bend this weekend and will be gone until late Sunday night. She is more than slightly terrified that she'll come home to a whole slew of mice in every corner of every single room.

It's nights like this where that New Yorker wants nothing more than to move back to St Louis, where mice don't care so much for the suburbs where she lives, with her car and dishwasher.

So much for doing my Bible reading.
Or sleeping, for that matter.

Can I be invested already so I can get the hell out of here?