This morning, it was just J and me. S and Dad had a double-header baseball game scheduled at 9am. We gave J the choice – go to baseball, or come to shul (synagogue) with Mom. He chose the latter (I don’t flatter myself – he chose that because it gave him an extra 30 minutes to dawdle).
I wanted to get there early – our rabbi is leading a discussion series title “Why Pray?” – a topic I find intriguing, and am curious about the perspectives of my fellow congregants. I don’t really have an answer to why I pray, and I don’t have any expectations about prayer. I do it. I take it seriously. I have no idea why. Maybe I’m hoping to gain some clarity for myself on that score. I have always wondered why I have this stubborn religious streak in me, despite my strong atheist/agnostic upbringing.
But, dragging J to shul early is always a challenge. Today was complicated by the fact that it started drizzling when we were about 1/3 of the way there. And I’d forgotten, or neglected, to grab the umbrella. He started complaining.
“Why can’t we drive on Shabbat?”
Me: “Because it’s nice to walk.”
“Let’s play charades.”
Yay for short attention spans. We played a very simplified version of charades (one of my hints was that I started skipping, and when he said “skipping” I said “Right!”). Then it was on to a stream of disconnected observations about all kinds of miscellaneous things – I wish I could remember some of them. It’s so fun to walk along with a kid, and just have a conversation about nothing. I treasure the Shabbat morning walks – these conversations never happen quite so fully in the car, in our rush from here to there. On Shabbat, especially when walking, the lack of rush is so evident (even when it’s drizzling on us, and I’m urging him to move it along so we can be sheltered).
We got to services, and the discussion about prayer was in progress. J wanted to be read to. I asked him to hold off for a couple of minutes. He was actually pretty good about that, and went off and played in the play area we have set aside. He was delightfully amused for at least 10 minutes. Ahhhh.
Services proceeded, and he came back to me, and we read about dinosaurs for awhile. Then, he announced that he was hungry, but was afraid to go to the kitchen by himself to ask for a snack, so we went out together, and found our friend, Bonnie, who kindly gave him some crackers and slices of cheese, which improved his mood enormously. I gotta love the community helping us raise these kids!
Then, J got involved in some goofiness with his older peers – usually big brother S’s friends, who treat J as a kind of mascot. I was able to return to the sanctuary and participate in the rest of the service with J occupied by his older friends. Again, hurray for community.
The walk home was a little soggier. But, at the end of it, we had clean dry clothes to change into, and hot showers, if desired (another reason I will likely never go fully Orthodox – I need a warm shower on Shabbat, if it’s rainy!).
The 25-hour window of Shabbat in our week is such a blessing! I can’t express how wonderful it is to take a true break from everything. Traffic, Facebook, email, phone, work, anxiety – a space to breathe. Ahhhh.