Sunday, April 29, 2012

Watch my speed

About a week ago, an elderly, distinguished gentleman at the morning minyan approached me just as I was about to take my place as prayer leader.  He told me I was going too fast and would I mind slowing down.  I was taken aback. I wasn't sure whether or not he was being facetious.  Once before I'd been accused of davening too slowly.  I've prided myself on davening at a moderate pace, not too fast or slow.  About a month ago, a friend had given me this strange complement: "I'm sorry your mother died, but I like your davening.  I can really follow along."

The next day I told a friend about the conversation with the gentleman.  He timed me. Lo and behold, I had indeed sped up.  I wasn't even conscious of it.  I guess familiarity breeds speed. The more you lead prayers, the greater the tendency to zoom through it.

Since then, I've made an effort to slow down.  Two days ago I approached the gentleman after the prayer service and asked him about my pace.  He expressed his appreciation that I'd slowed down.  We introduced ourselves to each other.  He mentioned his wife had fallen and broken her hip during Pesach.  I mentioned my father's broken hip.  He said he'd pray for my father.  I said I'd pray for his wife.  The true meaning of communal prayer revealed.

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