I’m not ready.
Taking a walk today, I started to feel an overwhelming sense of unpreparedness for the Holy Days. Rosh Hashanah is just a few days away, and yes all of my music is in order, yes I have prepared everything I’m going to say, yes the choir and musicians have been rehearsed, and yes our Torah chanter is amazing (she really is!). The “me” that is the hardworking, organizing, “CEO” of Cool Shul is definitely ready, but what about the me that is a wife, mother, daughter, friend, and spiritual leader? Is she ready? Am I as prepared inside as I am on the outside? The answer is no.
Who am I to think I could or should lead others? Who am I, so full of flaws and stress and worries, to think I have any business telling others how to process their own? Here I am, full of doubts and fears as it relates to personal and career matters, the earth’s wellness, and (of course!) national and international affairs. I don’t have any answers, much less all of them! I’m as confused as the next guy (ok, gal). So, what profound thing am I supposed to say at the Holy Days that hasn’t already been said about Charlottesville or the hurricanes or the government or the world, when here I stand without any prescriptions for remedies? Who the (bleep!) do I think I am to lead anyone?
Maybe I’m weak.
Or… maybe I’m right where I’m supposed to be.
We know what it’s like when leaders forget that their roles are to serve the people and not vice-versa. We have all experienced occasions on which people in powerful positions, be they teachers, clergy, bosses, or (gulp!) politicians, are no longer humbled by their opportunities to lead and make decisions to benefit themselves more than others (even if they can’t see it). I suppose it’s healthier to be nervous about my ability to lead than overconfident. So, maybe I’m perfectly hesitant, right where I should be.
At the Holy Days, the Cantor chants Hineni, a text in which we spiritual leaders admit that we are not strong enough to take on the responsibilities of the community. We admit that we are afraid in the face of our leadership. We cry out loud that we are here, but that we are humbled before the task at hand. I suppose that is just where I am. And that’s okay. I have always thought that Rabbis (or any other spiritual leaders for that matter) aren’t supposed to be expected to (or act as if) they have all the answers. We are simply humans with positive and less positive traits. We search our tradition for our own answers, but we truly can only share with our communities where we are in our own learning. We don’t have all the answers (and if we say we do, run!). So, Hineni, here I am, humbled before the task to lead my community through these days, but ready to share what I have discovered. Nothing more. But also nothing less.
These Holy Days, I will be honored by each and every presence before me who invites me into their spiritual realms. But I will also ask you to lead too. Every educator knows that students often teach as much as they learn. I promise to try to lift my community up and share a thing or two, but I hope you will also do the same for me and the person sitting next to you. Let’s all teach and share. Great leaders don’t lead alone, and I can’t wait to hear about your journeys.
Join me, either in person or online these Holy Days. We will be in Temescal Canyon, inspired by the trees peeking through the windows of Cheadle/Woodland Hall.
A special thank you to my friend who delivers meals for Meals on Wheels with me every week and who inspired this blog. Today she led me. 🙂