Today should be a day of joy, I told myself. Yet all I felt was a sense of nervous anticipation, of self-consciousness. The ceremony had been planned for months. Nothing could go wrong. So why did I worry?
The day was a beautiful one, with the glorious sun reaching its zenith in a crystal blue sky. Nobody could have asked for better. The temple would be well-attended today in thanks and celebration. Not only friends and family, but much of the city. The weather was a great omen, a sign that this coming year would bring prosperity to all.
As I walked down the aisle, my nervousness did not abate. Though my robes were perfectly in place, though all the faces I saw were smiling and encouraging. They were all here for me. It was a celebration for me I could not muster up the happiness such a day should be. Despite that, I put on a calm smile and went through the rehearsed motions. It would not be much longer, and then I could rest.
The priest at the altar smiled and greeted me as I reached the front. He looked up at the open skylight of the temple and murmured a prayer. I did the same, my hands clasped tightly on the bundle of flowers I held.
I took a deep breath and found an inner calm. If I could not find joy, perhaps I could at least abate the nervousness by absorbing myself in the practiced ceremony. I lay the flowers down by my feet and unclasped my robe to fall with them. Using the small footstool, I slowly stepped up and lay myself down on the altar.
I stared up at the brilliant sky and focused on the sounds of the temple. I found a peace in the rhythm of the whetting of the priest’s knives.
Today should be a day of joy, I told myself.