Why do I pray? …Why do I breathe?
After I take my seat in temple, the following lines from Elie Wiesel’s memoir, Night whisper to my soul, Why do I pray? Why do I breathe? I take this moment to silence within before the congregation’s opening prayer of the Sh’ma (hear), whose origin is rooted in in a deafening, universal pause.
Wiesel’s words enchanted me long before I took a seat in temple. Once upon a time, before I converted to Judaism, I was a high school teacher. Night was a part of the curriculum. Wiesel’s imagery never failed to amaze me, captivate me, sadden me, and forever impassion me.
A silent, choral chant greets me every time I sit in temple. The excerpts from a young Wiesel wash over me before the communal prayers begin. I take a moment of solitary reflection before I melt into the vocal community of prayer that surrounds me with warmth and hope.
I stopped wondering why those lines appear to me every temple holiday. I welcome them as a calming blessing to begin, rather than questions to answer.
When I pray, I can breathe. For once I am Centered. For once I am not moving to Point B. For once I am right where I should Be. It just took me a little longer to wander through the desert.
Happy New Year