It's a good thing that maariv (the liturgy of evening prayers) is brief; by the time I went outside, the light was already growing low. Above me, the half-moon of Elul gleamed in the sky. Around me the trees lost their details and became dark silhouettes as I focused on the words in my tiny pocket Koren siddur.
I spent most of today working on my senior teshuvah, the legal responsum each ALEPH rabbinic student is required to write before receiving smicha. I have a complete draft: it still needs work, but I printed it out, and tomorrow I'll read it over and see what I think.
It's been almost five years since I mailed my application to ALEPH. I had already begun learning with this chevre when I took the leap of actually applying to the program; that fall I became a student chaplain at Albany Medical Center. I took my first classes. Step by step I started walking this road.
As I davened maariv this evening, part of my brain was marveling at how much has changed for me in the last five years. The siddur from which I regularly pray now would have been intimidating to me then. For that matter, I didn't know much about weekday prayer. I didn't yet know and love the minor mode of weekday nusach.
The modern Hebrew text I translated this morning (with a little bit of help from a dictionary) would have been beyond my means then. So would the very idea of writing a teshuvah. So many of the texts, ideas, and prayers which are beloved to me now weren't yet a part of my consciousness.
I hadn't yet imagined what motherhood might be like.
Of course, there are other ways in which my life has remained blessedly constant since 2005. My marriage tops that list. Ethan and I still live in the same house on a hill in western Massachusetts where we lived then. Most of the people who were important in my life five years ago are still part of my sphere. I'm still writing poems -- better ones now than I wrote then, or at least that's my hope! And I'm still blogging here.
I remember how amazing it felt to be able to call myself a rabbinic student at long last. Every time I said the words I felt a little frisson. It's hard to believe my days of being a rabbinic student are numbered now.