Monday, April 26, 2004

it is late, and i should appease the slumber nymphs that are tugging at the corners of my sweater, whispering in my ears that they need me to lose consciousness for a while so they can vanquish the itchgoblin from the back of my throat. but i need to get some things down. so much is happening, so quickly, I can't even begin to keep up.
jews in the woods was exhausting. planning up to it was sleepless and intense, and there was little real chance to rest when shabbat came, because there were just too many people to love (and quite a bit of coordinating to do as well). i did have a few moments of beautiful rest, with zach on the couch in the afternoon sun before everyone arrived, the nap with julia, the very short but deep hours of sleep with zach and ben and francis and abby. how i managed to come back, pull myself together, finish my thesis, and take the MCATs within a week is beyond me...but I suppose it is not then so surprising that I have been sick in the recovery for the past week.
tefila was enormously powerful. intense. the pairs that led most of the services worked so well together, with so many new melodies, with such overwhelming intention. our maarive service lasted almost an hour and a half.
late that night, i went out on a stargazing walk that took a bunch of us into the woods, where, after some solo meditation time, we came together in a circle and started a sort of improvisational chanting and singing like nothing i have ever experienced.
the most impactful part of the weekend for me was probably my conversation with francis over shabbat afternoon dishwashing. i asked what she thought of the shabbat and she challenged me like no one has in a long time--in a supportive but truly radical way. she questioned how it was we had created a community that was not bound by a purpose of social justice, that was not invested in common goals of tikkun olam. she explained that for her, spiritual communities begin with that centering purpose and extend out of it. i have been thinking a lot about that concept. whether or not i agree with that community model, her challenge resonated on a personal level and has been reshaping the questions i pose to myself. how do i live a meaningful life? what kind of impact do i want to have?
francis, and the spiritually-connected energy of Jews In the Woods, primed me to be blown away by the AIDS pandemic conference this weekend. I must have cried at every event I went to. Speaker after speaker rose to the podium to speak of the extent of human suffering, the immediacy and breadth and direness of the crisis, and their efforts to help--on a truly mind-boggling scale. Ira Magaziner took the podium and told us he would not consider his efforts successful until the Clinton Foundation was saving millions of lives every year. millions.
For the first time in my life, I connected to enormous sufferings that I have lived so superinsulated from. I had been, of course, vaguely aware of the situation before. But I hadn't connected. Now, I feel responsible. Now, I have something to rise to, to struggle with. I am not sure where these feelings will take me, but I am glad that the fire has been lit. The coals have been smoldering coolly in the sand for far too long.