I was feeling kind of dispirited on my way to work today. Nothing bad, just kind of ...blah. I am long, long overdue for some down time, and I think it's catching up with me.
As I waited at a corner to make a turn, I saw an older, dark-skinned woman waving her arms and shouting on the opposite corner. I rolled my window down, turned off the stereo, and listened. She was shouting with joy about G-d. Just G-d. Not any particular creed or version or approach. And she was chiding people for not shouting with joy themselves. In her heavy Haitian accent, and with arms flying, she shouted that people should not be saying "Hallelujah" with their faces in a frown, and their eyes looking down, arms hanging. They should not be praying in muttered words and dour tones. They should be shouting to the skies and to the whole world, arms up and a big smile on their faces. Dancing! Singing! Sharing their happiness for the whole universe to see.
She's right! The reality of G-d should be joy! How could it be otherwise when we have butterflies and new-born babies and fluffy white clouds in blue summer skies and autumn leaves and snowy winter sunrises? Why do we pray and sing and worship with a tone and a demeanor better suited to mourning than celebrating?
There is a concept in Judaism that someday, when G-d decides the time is right, a Moshiach will appear. A person who will set the world right, lead us into a time of peace -- a return to the Garden. Popular discussions around the idea concern whether "he" will be a military leader or a politician or a religious leader.
I would like to suggest a different idea...I think the Moshiah will be an old black woman, shouting for joy about G-d on a street corner. She will, in her excitement and happiness and sheer delight in all that G-d is, be the one who can finally, finally, finally set us right.
So here is my song for this Shabbat...a traditional song, performed the way we should! With joy!!!