My day had a little late start. Firstly, there was a late davennen minyan and that late davennen minyan was much needed after three days of intense learning. I enjoyed a walk down by the lake. And soon realized that may have been a small issue, I was soon accosted by the Canadian Geese (what, yes they followed me to CT hissing all the way from Lake Merritt).
As I approached the lake they began hissing and following me along the path, blocking my way and forcing me to stay put and enjoy the beauty that surrounded me. By blocking my path away from the lake, I was able to really see what was around me. The lake, the trees, the farm and the geese themselves were so beautiful that I even appreciated them hissing.
Once the path was cleared, I became aware of the niggun filtering from the prayer space, the synagogue, which was attached to the Rec Room and office. I drifted in and sat down next to Rabbi Mari C. An HUC rabbi who is my cohort learning to daven, there is another rabbi from JTS, and rabbinical students from all over the world in my cohort. I got to feel another beautiful service and witness a Torah service in the middle of Shacharit, which I will have to learn the choreography for my own davennen co-leading of Shabbat Mincha.
I went up for an Aliyah that was so moving, When I sat down and really had the feeling wash over me I began to weep. The power of this week in the woods with a bunch of Jewish leaders made me break down and sob at the sheer awesomeness of being in everyone's presence. There are other reasons as well, but I digress... Powerful soul searching was the theme for a lot of my cohort.
Rabbi Marcia was an amazing teacher for the Four Worlds of Judaism and their curve though the service. Using many stories with a twinkle in her eye, and just a blessing to behold.
A primer on the Four Worlds:
ASSIYAH, earth, the objective world, where we live with our bodies in the physical world of action, including action for spiritual purpose.
YETZIRAH, water, the subjective world of vital feelings; the world of affect, of nuance, of aura, of sensitivity, of visceral and proprioceptive feelings.
BRIYAH, air, the symbolic world of the intellect, of contemplation, of pure thought.
ATZILUT, fire, the holistic world of deep divine intuition and of beingness with God.
Starting in Assiyah, moving upwards with Yetzirah and Briyah, and peaking with Atzilut and then down with the Torah service and onwards and ending back in Assiyah a little higher than when we started praying. I can see that the practice of davennen three times a day can really bring my mood up and connect me with G!d on a deeper level than I have been. I have been thinking about starting a davennen group at UCSF. It would have to be a Shacharit group with a 7am start time so that I could be at work on time.
I have gotten over my inadequate thoughts around my being here, and now feel so blessed that I have gotten to know so many amazing people and worked with them in prayer and learning.
To cap my day there were the Mincha and Ma'ariv davennen which blew my mind. first in the Mincha there was an African Ashrei that was call and response that I want to share with Cantor Sharon, and the Ma'ariv had a spoken word version of most prayers that created feelings in me not easily dismissed.
Some may say that Renewal is Judaism "light" and I would say Renewal is Judaism's Light!