How my days begin
Since my father died I have been going to morning minyan every day. I hadn't been going to services daily since I graduated from high school in 1978.
In those days, when I went to services in school, I davened behind a mechitza. When I davened at my home synagogue, although I didn't daven behind a mechitza, services were still not egalitarian. While I was an enthusiastic participant, I didn't have the opportunity to lead services.
I have led services occasionally in the intervening years. In the terror of standing before the ark, my voice has often come out pinched, choked and a little weird. It has been difficult for me to pace my breathing so that I could sing smoothly, and lead others comfortably.
My synagogue is egalitarian, men and women lead equally. Like my father, or more accurately to honor my father, who was always on time, I try my best to be at services just before they start. That means, I'm often called upon to lead.
Leading over and over, during these past months, my voice no longer leaps off into odd directions as I sing. I have calmed down enough to be able to pace my breathing so I no longer run out of breath and have my voice clench up all funny before the end of a line. My voice has become more comfortable with me being not just an enthusiastic member of the congregation, but also leading the community.
I love the low key-ness of morning services. My husband who finished saying kaddish for his mother about six weeks after my father died, calls it the wounded bunnies club. So many of us are in varying degrees of mourning. Some have just gotten up from shiva, others are still in the very early days of dealing with a death, others are nearly done with their time of saying kaddish, others are there for the Yahrzeit, the anniversary of the death.
I have found morning minyan to be a very gentle support group. There is no need to talk about your pain, everyone knows you are experiencing pain. We are there for one another ushering each other through the valley of the shadow of death and back into the land of the living.