Growing up, when we took family vacations, my parents always made the trip part of the vacation. We stopped at all the roadside attractions, every Stuckey's and DQ in existence, and each day we'd pull into a hotel around 4pm because my parents wanted us to have plenty of time to swim and enjoy the evening.
Once, when I was nine, we spent the night in Memphis on our way home. It was the Beatles final U.S. tour and John Lennon had just stated that they were more popular than Jesus. Everyone in Memphis was burning Beatles paraphernalia and turning in their tickets, so Dad bought two tickets and took me to the concert. It was one of the most exciting nights of my life.
For most of my adult life I've taken road trips by myself, but because of changing circumstances in my life some time back, I've been unable to do this for the past seven years. Then a few weeks ago I set out for a week of instruction at DLTI - a
workshop - and drove about 3,600 miles - alone. It was a gorgeous drive. I had hours with my music blasting away and hours of complete silence. Hours to formulate ideas for writing. Hours to pray and meditate. I stopped early and enjoyed the evening. I met a lot of fascinating people along the way. I didn't set my alarm in the morning.
When I arrived in Connecticut, I was refreshed and invigorated, and that helped make my week all the more transcendent. The special way our rabbis taught us to lead services filled with depth and
helped me in unimaginable ways. What utterly amazing teachers we have! Wow! I was astonished at how intimately and quickly so many of us bonded. Wow!
I'm so glad I took my time on the trip there and arrived ready for all that everyone had to offer.
Sometimes I just want to get to the destination. I'm not overly fond of writing, for example, but I LOVE getting to the finished product and holding my own new book in my hand. Practicing scales on my guitar, or new arpeggios, is agonizing - I just want to get that new song down NOW.
In most areas of my life, though, I just enjoy the journey.
As I embark on the path to become a rabbi, I'm prepared for all the years this will take. All the hard work. But I'm SO excited about the journey. I'm already certain that the people I've already gotten to know - and others whom I'll get to know later - will become some of the most intimate friends of my life. The course schedule will probably be rigorous and difficult at times, but what I learn will be filled with beauty and purpose and spirituality. It has not and will not be a lot of empty, dry facts filling my head. I know this because I know my teachers - men and women who are brimming with beauty and depth and the kind of knowledge that enriches every space in their souls.
During this journey, I plan to drive at my own pace, to take care of myself physically and emotionally, and most of all, to savor each moment with my teachers and friends. For me, it will never merely be about the destination. Thank you for letting me become part of this path. Thank you for walking on it with me.