As a way of describing what took place this morning I'll use a series of guiding questions. I got these questions from a poem called Gratitude by Mary Oliver. In that poem, she asks herself these questions and writes her responses.
What did you notice?
The easy way that students, faculty, and special guests trickled into the gym and found their way to their seats. The feeling of familiarity among those who weekly participate in this sacred gathering.
What did you hear?
The sound of the Torah being read by our two honorees, ancient words with modern messages. The sound of one of our honorees expressing her commitment to personal, religious, and spiritual growth as if it were the most natural thing in the world. The voice of one of our honorees explaining that a community not only rejoices, but consoles one another. The sound of a teacher speaking on behalf of his colleagues and calling attention to some of the special qualities of our celebrants. The sound of a shofar, not once, but twice, calling us to purpose.
What did you admire?
The gracious presence of our honorees. Leading in a comfortable and authentic way. Taking their place in the midst of our community. The supportive circle of friends and family, there to embrace them and witness their leadership. The story shared by a visiting alum, especially the part about how he is a catalyst for positive change in his community.
What astonished you?
That such a gathering exists. 200 teens and pre-teens, gathering for Tefilah on a Thursday morning in Atlanta, GA in 2017.
What would you like to see again?
Nothing. I am blessed to have seen it. And I look forward to seeing what comes next.
What was most tender?
The hugs and kisses from friends and family. The words shared on behalf of the teachers. The yad gently walking across the words in the scroll.
What was most wonderful?
The (A)Typical nature of it all.
What did you think was happening?
I can't even begin to answer this question.