When my kids were little, Friday nights were evenings spent together. Mostly, we’d light candles and have some bread. Consistently, Danny and I needed some down time from our crazy unbalanced weeks, which consisted of driving to work, driving to daycare, running the dishwasher, running the washing machine, running to the grocery, running to Target – you get the picture.
Needless to say, when Friday night came we had what is now infamously called “Friday Face” – a resting blank face that looks a little frustrated and a little checked out. Therefore on Friday nights I had one request: We be together, but we not talk or create too much energy. So, I instituted Friday movie night. We’d pick a movie on demand, pop up some corn, throw in some junior mints or milk duds (Jordy is not a mint fan), and we’d stare at the screen…in remarkable silence.
I now have one boy in high school, and one heading off to college. For our high schooler, gathering and instituting movie night competes with school dances and football games. I still have Friday Face, but it’s now related to getting everyone to stay home rather than sit quietly.
I share this with you as I reflect on the Friday night Shabbat service I attended with Hazzan Joanna Dulkin. I’ll be honest…I’m not a regular Friday night services goer, but as a board member I was invited to greet the Hazzan at her inaugural service. I arrived a few minutes late with full Friday Face. I had been dealing with some family commitments and was questioning why I was heading out in public. However, when I entered the chapel, I heard the beautiful strums of guitar. As I found my friends and sat down, I was greeted by the Hazzan with the warmest smile. The service was…dare I say…relaxing. The music was soothing. The Hazzan spoke words that really connected with me. She said that each and every one of us is a prayer and by entering a space, any space, we make it holy just by being there. I’m a prayer? That’s beautiful. That idea melted my Friday Face for that week.
Our Friday night goals have changed as we’ve moved through life’s phases and stages. When the kids were little, we focused on feeling connected and present. As the kids’ lives continue to get busier outside of our home, we remain focused on connection and being in the moment…if only for a few minutes before the boys run out the door. Hazzan Dulkin's simple words reminded me of the high value I place on those moments when my family is together and truly present. Each of us is a prayer, each filling up space with wonderful energy, and for that I’m so grateful.
If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you to attend a service with Hazzan Dulkin. My friends and family have remarked how she brings a wonderful, spiritual energy into any space she enters. And, I fully agree.