One of the things I love about Fridays on retreat at Elat Chayyim is the way we're constantly conscious that Shabbat is on its way. The schedule inevitably changes, the flow of the day condensed in order to offer time for mikvah and for sprucing ourselves up. By the time we gather to welcome the Shabbat bride, most of us are wearing white, and all of us are sparkling. (Emotionally and spiritually, I mean, though some of us sparkle literally, too -- my little vial of glitter is always in-demand!)
There's something really delicious about easing into Shabbat there after a hectic week of conversations and learning -- like sliding into a cool lake in midsummer, or settling in to a hot tub on a cold winter day. The tradition teaches that we all gain an extra soul on Shabbat -- or maybe it's that we become newly-aware of the extra soul which was there all along. We lift ourselves out of the groove of weekday nusach, leaping into Shabbat melodies we haven't heard all week. We sing. We clap and drum. We dance.
Here in my home community, we're a little bit more sedate. People don't wear white, necessarily (though we will daven the evening amidah outdoors, among the wildflowers of the field -- that, at least, echoes the kabbalists of Tzfat in a certain way) and our style of worship is gentler, more contemplative. We may or may not make a minyan, tonight. There won't be dancing in the aisles.
Still, we'll gather to sing songs and psalms and to welcome the Shabbat bride into our midst. We'll reflect on the week that was -- its sweetnesses and its challenges -- and allow Shabbat to be both the culmination and the chatimah, the sealing wax that caps the week and lets us integrate it into our memories so we can carry it with us as we move on.
And I like to think that we're all welcoming Shabbat in together, no matter where we are in the world. My little congregation, and my DLTI chevre, and my family, and all of you. Whether we're together or apart, in community or flying solo, whirling in ecstatic dance or speaking words softly off the page: Shabbat is coming, our weekly taste of reflection and peace, and I am so glad.
Shabbat shalom, all.