Written by Amy Fleming
I went through mikveh guide training not to be a mikveh guide. As a Board member of Mayyim Hayyim, I loved giving tours of the mikveh, educating visitors about what we do, and communicating my excitement about this important revolution, transformation, inspiration (so many superlatives – I’m still that enthused about Mayyim Hayyim, after all these years) that was taking place under our roof. So I went through the training to be more educated, and to educate, but I didn’t think I was cut out to be a mikveh guide. I’m very talkative, and when I’m nervous, I over-compensate, and will chatter more. I had a sense that a mikveh guide needed not only tact, discretion, and dignified composure, but also possibly the ability, or judgment, to be invisible when appropriate. That didn’t seem like my strong suit.
Awhile after completing the training, though, I decided to take the plunge (hah! No pun intended, truly!) and be a guide. I thought I was needed, and that I could discipline myself, be mature enough, to be a calm and quiet mikveh guide. As a matter of fact, I thought it would be a good exercise for me.
I remember early on, a trivial little incident – but it was an important step along my path of learning and growth as a guide (and as a human?). A guest was in a preparation room, getting ready to immerse. I was at the mikveh guide desk; family and friends of the immersee were on the sofa and chairs, chatting as they waited. I heard one tell another he had flown in from Portland, Oregon. “My daughter is living and working in Portland this summer!” I wanted to burst out and join in excitedly. But I stopped myself, telling myself, “Amy, this isn’t about you.” And that became a mantra of sorts for me in those beginning months. This isn’t about me.
As the years have passed and I’ve had the privilege and joy of witnessing immersions almost every week, I’m happy to say I’ve found a happy medium, knowing, and able, to be quiet when quiet is called for, and chatty and outgoing to put people at ease when that is the right thing. What a good feeling.
Amy Fleming is a devoted mikveh guide, board member, wife, and mother of three grown children.