Clergy and lay leaders are already beginning to write sermons, plan worship services and community activities. Musicians are rehearsing huge stacks of music for the multiple services they will help to lead. This year, as I prepare for my first big out-of-town High Holy Days posting, I am overwhelmed by the sheer amount of music I must familiarize myself with in a relatively short amount of time -- roughly two months. And so yesterday, I took a break from the stack of music, as thick as the Yellow Pages used to be, and I thought hard about my role in all of this.
For inspiration and information, I turned to the prayer Hineini, which the Hazzan or Cantor sings facing the open ark. In this prayer she asks God to hear her prayer and to help her be worthy of the great sresponsibility of serving as a sort of conduit for the prayers of the community at this solemn time of year. The prayer is a reminder to the Cantor and the community that this is not about any one person, but about the need for the entire community to make things right so we can enter the new year together.
I needed this reminder -- that none of this, ultimately, is about me, but about being of service to the community. My piece in this is needed as one of many pieces that help us all come together and enter the New Year Of The Soul with reconciliation and in peace. Taken in that light, the expectation is not that I will be perfect, but real. The work is still demanding, but also humbling -- and therefore, somehow more doable.
Here are the words I came up with, for my own personal version of the Hineini prayer.
UPDATE -- I've made a decent audio demo and have posted it here, below.
It is unlikely I will use it this year -- there is already a service outline in place -- but writing this song has helped me to take a breath and get some perspective on what I need to do, and why.
My head is spinning now
My heart is trembling, too
I stand here naked in my soul
so I. can fill myself, fill myself up with You
My hands are shaking, God
I must look like a mess
I stand here wondering just how
I can bring to You, bring to You my best
My best has been on holiday
I've fallen short, and been short-tempered
Why must I be the one to ask on their behalf
For a better path
When I can't find my own?
I feel so small right now
And maybe that's a start
But how can I know You'll hear me
When tonight it feels like we're so far apart?
O God, be with me now
and with everyone who's here
Help us stand with our flaws and regrets
And make amends together for this brand-new year
-- Beth Hamon copyright July 14 2014