We pulled three tables together; as our numbers swelled we added a fourth. We crowded around them, textbooks and miniature siddurim jostling for place alongside bowls of chips and salsa and a reasonable handful of drinks (I had a pint of Fat Tire, which was pretty tasty stuff.) By the time we were done we'd attracted a small crowd of onlookers, rabbis and rabbinic pastors hanging out on the margins and occasionally chiming in.
Yes: we spent the hours between 10pm and 12:30 in the morning having a meeting of our liturgy class with Reb Sami in the Boulderado's Corner Bar.
It was a blast. First we talked about our synagogue visits
(I blogged about one of mine a while back here); then about
questions of liturgical message, and the strengths and
weaknesses of Jewish services and Christian services in that
regard. And then, toward the end, we moved to a close reading of
the piyyut "Adon Olam," which -- I kid you not --
took us through questions of infinity, philosophy, relationship,
divinity, and the human condition. At lightning speed. It was kind of breathtaking.
Going out for drinks with teachers and colleagues is probably old hat to my friends who attend, or have attended, traditional bricks-and-mortar seminaries. But we in the ALEPH ordination programs are so geographically dispersed that this kind of experience is an impossibility for us, most of the time. It's a pleasure just seeing one another's faces, motions, body language. Laughter and gestures and making faces and chiming in on top of each others' sentences.
Plus which, we were talking about incredibly interesting stuff. Services and deep ecumenism, medieval poetry and philosophy and theology. And we closed by singing the last verse of "Adon Olam" to the tune of "Amazing Grace," in multipart harmony, to an audience of waitstaff clearing tables at the otherwise empty bar.
I haven't been a real night owl in years. I'm short on sleep, and have been for some days now. Today was an incredibly full day (great
talks, study sessions, a meeting with my spiritual director, and
so on) in a string of incredibly full days. But this late-night
liturgy class at the pub lit me up; I'm flying.