Student: I could never be a spiritual leader.
Me: Why not?
Student: I haven’t figured out my own stuff. How can I help them figure out theirs? I don’t know what I believe. How can I tell anyone else what to believe?
Me: The fact that you are aware enough to know that you haven’t figured it all out is proof you could be a spiritual leader. If your spiritual leaders ever tell you they have it all figured out, find new spiritual leaders.
The very evening I had this conversation, I also officially became Invested as a Cantor. Surrounded by my family and a few friends, my mentor signed the document and told those nearest and dearest to me that I am now a spiritual leader in the community. He said I was someone they could turn to for guidance. My heart both soared and tightened. I could hear my student’s words echoing in my ears:
“I haven’t figured out my own stuff. How can I help them figure out theirs?”
I guess I have to take my own advice.
As my student’s and my conversation continued that day, I told her that as her Cantor and as her friend, I would never ever tell her what to believe, and I would never tell what she had to do or not do. I promised I would only use my knowledge to guide her toward figuring out what she may want to believe, and how she may want to act. I let her in on the “secret” that I do not have all the answers and never will, but that my job is to be there to help her discover her own answers. I assured her that I’m just as confused as anyone else and that I try to use my learning to help all of us, including me, take small steps along our spiritual paths. Nothing more.
I guess I understand why my student thinks a spiritual leader should have all the answers, and I understand how spiritual leaders sometimes get caught up in their own wisdom and think they, in fact, do have all the answers. After all, they are often revered. They are used to leading hundreds, if not thousands of people who lean upon them for Truth. They feel a responsibility to constantly and consistently offer concrete solutions to spiritual mysteries. But me? I still feel more like a mom and a wife and a friend than I do a “spiritual leader.” I’m learning as I go every day, and as a new “graduate,” I think that what I now know most is what I don’t know. All I can do is invite some of you to join me on this lifelong journey of exploration and discovery. I’ll tell you what I learn, and you tell me the same.
I must admit, now as an Invested Cantor (who is also on her way to becoming a Rabbi), I’m nervous. I don’t want to start believing my own hype (if I ever have any). I want to always be Diane first, and Rabbi/Cantor (or as my daughter says “Rantor”) second.
So, now I am asking all of you to make me a promise. If I ever get caught up in my own “wisdom,” if I ever tell you who you should be or what you should believe or do, please find this blog entry. Place it before my eyes, force me to read it, and remind me of who I really am.