We are about to enter the Amidah prayer, the central and deepest time of prayer, the heart of our service. “Amidah” means standing. For these moments of spiritual intimacy, we stand in body if we are able; we rise to a different level in our minds and our hearts.
About this essential moment of prayer, the Shulkhan Arukh, that great compendium of halakhahassembled by the mystic and scholar, Yosef Caro, says,
”המתפלל צריך שיכוין בלבו פירוש המלות שמוציא בשפתיו ויחשוב כאלו שכינה כנגדו"
"The one who is praying the Amidah should direct through their heart the meaning of the words that issue from their lips, and imagine that the Shekhinah is before them.”
When we rise to pray the Amidah, whether in body or in spirit, we become present to our deepest truth, to that particular aspect of truth that each of us has been given to safeguard and to bring forward into the world. As it says of Moses in the traditional Shabbat Amidah prayer,
“ישמח משה במתנת חלקו, כי עבד נאמן קראת לו” “Moses rejoiced in the gift of his portion, for You, God, called him ‘faithful servant.’ ” So are we, too, to identify and to rejoice in the particular aspect of holy service to which we are called.
And when we rise in prayer, we rise not only before God, but also filled with God. The somatic pioneer Emilie Conrad z”l, the creator of Continuum Movement, in her book Life on Land, wrote, “God lives in us as a liquid presence…. The message of God can be felt in the movement of water. The fluids in our cells are the liquid presence of our spiritual birthright…. The feeling is of a divine sensuality in which every cell is illumined, wet, in an embrace where there is no fear, no death, only the merging of an encompassing unbounded embrace in which human emotion becomes something else. God is not elsewhere but is moving through our cells and in every part of us with its pulsating message.” (Breathe & feel this)
What words does God-inside-you, the Presence that fills and enlivens every cell of you, need to say--want to say—at this moment to Atah, You, God-filling-the-world? What does Presence-in-you have to say to the Presence that overflows every rosebud, every hummingbird, every mangy coyote and sleek racehorse? What does God-in-you want to say to every koala and kangaroo killed by wildfire, and to the searing flames of the fire itself; to the rising seas and the inundated lands? What does God-in-you need to say to the people sick with virus and to the virus that is sickening them; to the man lying lifeless on the pavement and to the man whose knee is on his neck?
What truth is rising within us now? What truth can we stand within? How much truth can we stand? Maybe your Amidah this morning is an Amidah of questions only, or of stunned silence, or of tears, or of breath.
Before we, along with Moses, can beg for healing, as he will do in our Torah reading today—"El na refa na lah, God, please heal her, heal us, now!"—we must steep ourselves in the truth of this moment, our truth, God’s truth. Adonai s’fati tiftakh ufi yagid t’hilatekha, Beingness, open up my lips! Let my mouth vibrate with the fullness of Your Presence!