The unbearable maladroitness of being
Thinking about how awkward things were last night at Shabbat. Not a lot, to be sure—positively most of the interactions were warm and pleasant—but now that I think of it it strikes me as strange that despite the efforts, this is how we do at being community, at least at Shabbat, at least in this group. Maybe there’s something to do with the fact that it’s a gathering of a bunch of disaffected Jews who are not entirely comfortable in a religious environment, especially in one that they have a very ambivalent attitude towards—family obligation, rebellion, disenchantedness, or renewal and regeneration. Or it could be the fact that it’s a new community that people are still getting accustomed to. But for whatever the reason, it’s still slightly awkward.
It could also be that my expectations are very high. I imagine that’s likely where my feeling right now is coming from. I imagine a Shabbat where everyone knows each other so well that there is only communicating freely, catching up, true emotions shown and exchanged—my shabbosdik utopia. Instead there are slightly uneasy conversations and glances, lots of checking and doubting whether comments went down the way they were intended, what that length of silence meant about the words that came before.
I’m going to hope that time is all it will take, that Shabbat can still be a place of near total comfort, of familiarity and ease.
Or maybe this is the price we pay for a life that is all choice and no old-school (modernist) authenticity.
Only time will tell.