Saturday, February 26, 2011

Shabbat Nyeri

With the rest of the group enjoying a Safari in Samburu,  a Shabbat of solitude was in the offing.

I set up my little Shabbat corner of my room, and jumped in, lighting candles (something I’m certain I haven’t done in at least 13 years if not longer). Knowing that all of the rooms surrounding me were assigned to my colleagues and therefore empty, I let loose, serenading the unperturbed trees outside my window with a full volume Carlebach Kabbalat Shabbat, something I haven’t really done since my last Friday night at Kesher back in October. About halfway through, I could hear the muezzin from the local mosque behind the treeline and across the highway joining in, something that recalled davening in certain locations in Jerusalem.

Emotionally, it was a mix of the transcendence of davening apart, away, and in complete isolation and longing for the top shelf family time that normally constitutes a Shabbat evening. But having made my solitary bed, I aimed to sleep with gusto, pacing my prayers according to me own whim, lingering on tunes that felt right, and singing every Shabbat zemer published in the Koren siddur. My Shabbat meal constituted of a mini-Kedem grape juice, 2 whole wheat matzot, a tin of tuna fish, a packet of RJ’s Kosher Beef Jerky and an orange – basar v’dagim v’chol matamim – and I was off to bed.

Since all my timepieces are electronic, I can’t tell you what zmanim I observed, but I can tell you precisely when I woke up, as the rooster who has made himself a home just out of view but not out of earshot from our bank of rooms has been quite punctual all week. He has no snooze button, and his repeated crowing is quite impossible to sleep through. I hope to kill that bird.

Praying in the morning was similar to the previous night, although layning the parasha to myself alerted me to how rusty I’ve become, gotta work on that before Rami’s bar mitzvah. Before lunch, I caught myself pausing a second time after “Savri” in Kiddush, which brough a smile to my face - as if I expected one of my avian audience to reply “L’Chaim”.

I leisurely strolled around the town and the Green Hills campus for some of the day, indulged myself a long Shabbat afternoon nap, and enjoyed a few selections from the Mitoch HaOhel collection of drashot from YU that the Rosenbaums presented to me as a going away present. The frenetic pace of our work during the week and the full stop of this Shabbat put the conceit of progress and the humility of rest in lovely contrast, and I thought for a while about the proper frame of reference for our work here. Though I hope that all of us are able to make substantive contributions during our brief stay, Shabbat brought home the notion that Kenya was here long before us and will be here long after us, and our fondest wish can only be that its progress, whose success will be determined by factors indubitably far out of our control, is ever so slightly buoyed by our efforts.

Tomorrow I rise early to head out into the Mau Mau caves, fortunately long since abandoned.

Shavua tov!

No comments:

Post a Comment