My buoyant friend Danielle was kind enough to drive ACROSS THE ENTIRETY OF LOS ANGELES on a Friday afternoon, no less, without so much as an explanation. On arrival:
Her: So are you converting to be Jewish?
Me: Yes. Here, I brought $50 worth of Trader Joe’s for some reason. Eat.
And so began Shabbat Under the Stars, the semesterly outdoor service and concert at American Jewish University. It’s high on the hill with an incredible sunset view at an incredible time of year. The colors were amazing!
I had had my first phone check-in with Rabbi Adam Greenwald just that week and had told him about the path that led me here, including a divorce from an abusive partner, and a longterm illness (fibromyalgia). In his brief, insightful, and witty sermon, he mentioned those who are in abusive relationships or situations and the courage to leave them. I felt like that was for me; was that always there? Either way it was amazing.
We had first arrived that night a little late, LA traffic being what it is and all, so I missed the check-in table. It had a sign on it with instructions though, leading me into the room (pictured above) with tea light candles. It said to light 2 or more candles, and to draw the light toward you, like taking in a scent, I suppose. I’d never done this, and luckily no one was around, affording me a chance to awkwardly figure out what that looked like to me.
I lit two candles, thought of my mother and her love for lighting prayer candles in every cathedral she happens upon while traveling, and made my way to meet up with some really welcoming, fun people from my class. Danielle arrived some time later and we had a great, engaging talk on the ride home.
The world needs more Danielles, and the world needs more candles thoughtfully lit.