It's funny, I said to Reb Shawn on Friday morning. Even if you'd tried to tell me during week one how remarkable this process was going to be -- how it would change my relationship with the liturgy, with the act of prayer, and with God -- I don't think I could have heard you. I had to live it.
Toward the end of week one, our teachers offered a rubric for understanding how we assimilate new skills into our toolboxes. First comes awareness -- aha! There are things I need to know (and maybe I didn't even realize I didn't know them!) Then comes awkwardness -- oy, now I know what I've been doing wrong, but that knowledge doesn't yet enable me to do things differently. Then comes skillfulness, when the work becomes transparent and we can work within it and be changed by it. And finally, integration.
Week three of DLTI is the week of skillfulness, when we find ourselves dipping into the liturgy in deep ways we couldn't have done in week one (the week of learning just how much we didn't know) or week two (the week of bumping into our mistakes and our baggage around those mistakes.) This week, we really started to soar.
The first night, when we gathered in the sanctuary after dinner for our opening program and for prayer, the energy in the room buzzed and crackled. When we started davening maariv (the evening service) we clicked right into the groove of evening prayer together as though we had never been apart. That feeling persisted for me all week -- it was like this kahal (community) and I had been praying together all along, every day since we parted in February. In a way, I think, we had. We carry one another in our hearts.
I entered DLTI looking for liturgical leadership skills, and I'm definitely getting them. I'm learning a lot about our liturgy; how to work within and augment it, how the pieces fit together and what they mean. But more than that, DLTI is teaching me how to pray, how to connect with the liturgy's big ideas and to speak with God from where I genuinely am. The practical skills arise out of emotional and spiritual growth. This isn't just about learning how to do stuff. It's about opening myself to transformation, and then leading prayer out of that new place.
How was week three of DLTI? Honestly awesome. It's amazing to see my colleagues grow -- not only as leaders-of-prayer, but also as leaders in our community, and as daveners in their own individual ways. It's amazing to see how we flourish within the structure of this program and this community, and how that structure and safety allows us to blossom. I think we really embodied prayerful consciousness, both within davenen and in the flow of our days outside of formal prayer time, and that gave rise to some pretty awesome stuff. (I know I surprised myself with the ways I was able to stretch and shine.)
There's more I want to say. As I process the week more fully, dip back into my journal and my notes, and also make headway in the work of email triage and re-entry into my ordinary life, I'll post more. But at least this is a start. In the tiniest nutshell, the kernel of what I want to convey is: Holy wow. I feel so blessed.