Do you know what time it is? How about what day it is? If you need to look at your phone... well, you are not alone. Do you know where you were yesterday? Do you remember what you did? I know because I was where I’ve been most days for the past year. In our dining room, my “office,” sitting in front of my computer. My lower back knows the hours. And, I remember what I did as well. It’s what I’ve been doing most days... yes, for the past year. Sound familiar?
But, I wake up Friday with a different feeling.
Artists, photographers, and others sometimes employ the power of “negative space.” Negative space is sometimes described as the area around, between, or even in-between objects. This seemingly empty area can actually be very powerful. At one moment, it may seem blank and then it can take on meaning. To illustrate, look at the FedEx logo, did you ever notice the “arrow” between the “E” and “X”? If you didn’t, you will always see it now. That is negative space.
Shabbat, for me, is what I imagine negative space is for an artist. It may sometimes start as an empty space after a hectic or difficult, or tragic week, but if I let it, it can become powerful and spiritual as I move into the separateness of Shabbat - the time of the week where I TRULY KNOW WHERE I AM. I AM IN A SACRED SPACE. Because that is what Shabbat is. Shabbat is a sacred space in time. And I know at that moment what to do. My purpose. To sing and praise with my full heart our joyous and sacred songs. Ahad Ha’am’s famous declaration rings eternally true. “More than the Jew has kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jew."
Those hours I spend on the computer provide numerous opportunities to create sacred time. Sharing an hour with our sixth graders engaged in the serious and joyous study and discussion of Shabbat liturgy. “Why Cantor?” “What is the meaning of this Cantor?”
Another hour with our kindergarten kids, studying the story of Passover:
Adorable kindergartner: “Cantor Gurney, you know what I like on my matzah?”
Me (shouting back even louder): “No!! What?”
Adorable kindergartner (even louder) “Cockroaches!!”
Me: ”Chocolate covered?”
Screams of laughter
Then, a softer voice offers: "That’s disgusting.”
I imagine for them, and I know for me, it was a sacred moment in time.
What each of these sacred opportunities requires to fulfill their promise is – us. Our intentions, our thoughts, our fully mindful presences. Last Friday night, for the first time in a year, we presented our Friday night services live from our glorious Sanctuary. What a joy to be singing our sacred songs into that sacred space! But, oh, how I miss singing and praying together with all of you! We will be there together again when it is right. Until then…