I have been very busy which is why I have not posted anything since, gulp, November? I am not going to use any excuses - not my back surgery, not my trip to Colorado, not my 2 weeks in bed "I feel like I'm going to die" bout with the flu, not my mother's small stroke and her aphasia. No excuses.
What brought me back to the writer's desk is pretty darn funny. In fact, it made me and Renée laugh out loud for several minutes - all at my expense. I am sure that you have experienced a similar self inflicted wound at some point in your life, and I'd love to hear your story so I can laugh at someone other than myself!
I drive on Shabbat, but only under certain conditions, which are either to drive to a friend's house for Shabbat dinner or to drive to synagogue. When I do either I first remove the following things that I keep in my wallet - my license, my registration, my auto club card, and my insurance card. By doing so I create a fence around my joy of Shabbat by not carrying money or credit cards. But since I do drive, I am prepared "just in case."
So...last Shabbat morning I drove my car to the the Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church where my community, Minyan Oneg Shabbat, holds its Shabbat morning gatherings. When I lead services, I do not like to have anything in my pockets. I find it can be a source of distraction, so last Shabbat morning I removed what was in my pocket - that is, all of the things I had removed earlier from my wallet and placed into my pocket. Now when I am playing with my band I usually put these things in one of the small bags that I keep my microphones in. But this morning I was earing a "different kippah, that of "Rabbi Mark", not "bandleader Mark", and so, where to put the things in my pocket? I looked around and put them in the first thing that I saw, which were my shoes, which I usualy do not remove but on this Shabbat morning, in anticipation of doing some movement work, I had. And so, guess where I put everything for safekeeping? You guessed it, in my left shoe. Isn't that where you would have put your things?
After our morning of meditation and mindfulness work I shmoozed with the people who had come, one of whom asked if he could borrow a book I had brought with me. I said yes, and then I packed up my things, put on my shoes, and drove home. But when I arrived home I realized that I didn't have the things I had put in my pocket, where were they? I was certain that I had put them in the book that I had loaned out, but no, I contacted Andrew who checked and informed me, "sorry, not in there". But I had memory of putting the things in a book, and so I scoured the other books I had brought with me that morning. Nothing. I went back to the church, retracing my steps along the way. Nothing. I waited a few days hoping the things would reappear. Nothing. Now I had to bite the bullet, and order a new driver's license, registration, etc.
During the interim I had developed a pain in my foot, my left foot. How I had hurt myself I had no clue, but my foot hurt, a lot, and still does. And so yesterday, when I went to put on my shoes - the same ones that I had worn to the church on Shabbat morning, the same ones I had worn to walk to the store on Sunday, and then to the movies on Tuesday - when I looked down to pick up my left shoe I screeched and was kncked to the floor with laughter. Renée came over to see what I was hysterical about, and when I showed her all the things I had put in my shoe and forgotten about, the same shoe I had worn for 3 subsequent days after putting the things in there without noticing, we had a really good laugh.
LIke I said, I am still limping. I feel a little bit like Jacob after his wrestling with the angel and he walked away with a limp from the encounter. Surely, my driver's license was in this place and I, I did not know! What's the lesson here? Not I'm not supposed to eat from a certain section of my shoes from now on?
OK, now come clean, hasn't something like this happened to you? And what do you make of the fact that it was after a morning of Jewish mindfulness pratice that I failed to notice that my shoes were not as comfortable as they had been before?
Renée suggests that next time I put the things in my coat, and that is exactly what I plan to do - and then leave the coat home.
Now, where are my keys?
Mark Novak is a "free-range" rabbi who lives in Washington DC and works, well, just about everywhere. In 2012 he founded Minyan Oneg Shabbat, home to MOSH (Minyan Oneg Shabbat), MindfulMOSH (Jewish mindfulness gathering). and the Havdalah Café & Cabaret.