Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The routine

Today marks the halfway point of my kaddish year.  (See  By now I am well into the routine of going to shul twice a day, once in the morning and once for the afternoon/evening services.  It's more difficult to establish a routine for the afternoon services as the time keeps changing depending on the time of sunset.  This week Mincha (the afternoon service) begins at 7:50 p.m.  So I am making and eating dinner beforehand.  By the time I get home, around 8:25, there is not much of the day remaining.  When I first started saying kaddish at the end of November, Mincha began around 4:30, so I went to shul right after work and had my evenings free.

By contrast, morning services begin at a fixed time (either 6:45 or 6:55 a.m., depending on whether Torah is read.)  I've established a fixed routine.  I wake up at 5:45 or 5:55.  I do some exercises until either 6:02 or 6:12.  For the next half hour I dress, groom and make my coffee.  I leave home at 6:32 or 6:42.  Lately, I've relaxed a bit and am leaving more like 6:34 or 6:44, since there are some new mourners who are still in their Shloshim period (first 30 days after burial), and so have priority to lead prayers.  I go to my car, put my backpack, lunch and coffee in it, get my tallis bag, and walk to shul.  Fortunately, shul is only a four minute walk, so I get there by 6:40 or 6:50.  It takes me about two minutes to put on my tallis and tephilin.  If I'm leading prayers, I walk to the bima (prayer stand), otherwise I settle into my seat.

The routine makes up a large part of the kaddish year.  Going to shul gives structure to your day. You make your plans to fit around it.  But shul-going and mourning are not completely synonymous.  Shul-going is only one piece of it, a major one to be sure.  There are also the internal aspects, the dreams, the thoughts, the memories, the adaptations to new realities.  Does shul-going enhance this process?  Not an easy question to answer.  It does formalize and ritualize the mourning process, reminding you that your life has changed.  I know that no matter how many questions I have about what I'm doing, the only question I don't have is whether I'll continue with the routine.  The routine is the fixed star around which my mourning revolves.

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