Okay, so, experiencing G-d’s presence requires only one thing:
Opening Our Hearts. And THAT can be risky even if we are in a room all alone.
So, what about when we worship with community?
Well, the risk gets only greater!!
Not only can the expression of any emotion in public be awkward for those of us who were not raised to express emotion in the presence of others, but if our open hearts take us to laugher or tears at “socially inappropriate” moments, we also might experience a little embarrassment.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that religious liturgy was designed to take us to a number of emotional “places” – gratitude, love, fear, awe, respect, devotion, grief, hope, etc. – precisely because the point of religious worship is to open our hearts, so that we can feel G-d’s presence as a community.
So, what are we to do? We must train ourselves to open our hearts in a room full of other people!!
We must find a way to be sufficiently comfortable with ourselves to welcome our friends, our enemies, complete strangers, acquaintances, and (sometimes most frightening of all) our families to sit in a room with us while we allow ourselves to be completely vulnerable to Life: to laugh, to cry, to love, to express gratitude, to feel fear, to hope, and/or to mourn . . . sometimes experiencing more than one of them at a time!!
And how do we get sufficiently comfortable with being that vulnerable?
— We must acknowledge that we are not in control of Life.
— We must acknowledge that perfection is not possible.
— We must accept and love ourselves for who we are.
— We must accept and love others for who they are.
Let go of control and perfection,
and love ourselves and others.
Let go and love.
If we can let go and love, we will allow ourselves to feel G-d’s presence . . . which, of course, is always there, but the fear that closes our hearts stops us from feeling it . . .