I ASK FOR YOUR FORGIVENESS.
FOR THOSE I MAY HAVE HELPED,
I WISH I COULD HAVE DONE MORE.
FOR THE MANY I NEGLECTED TO HELP,
I AM TRULY SORRY.
TO THOSE WHO HELPED ME,
I AM DEEPLY GRATEFUL.
—-Rabbi Shalom Ber Cohen
The Jewish community is celebrating their new year this week, and I sent Rabbi Cohen’s message to all of my friends and family on Facebook. I decided that I wanted to send the same message out to everyone who shares in my blog each week, because I realized that for better or worse, I touch all of you as well.
When we really think about all of the people who we directly or indirectly affect every day, our responsibility to do good becomes clearer. We need to think before we speak, because words cut deeper than blades sometimes. My humor tends towards the sarcastic, and sometimes it comes out harsher than I mean. As a teacher I had to learn to curb those tendencies because not everyone understands sarcasm. One day I sarcastically responded to a young man who chose not to avail himself of my after school tutoring. He came to me the next day and told me that my words hurt him all night. He explained his reason for passing up tutoring and told me he believed I was wrong in my words to him. I was lucky that this young man had the strength to face me and give me the chance to apologize. I had spoken out of a teacher’s love, but it wasn’t seen that way. If, in my blog this year I said anything to hurt anyone, I do ask your forgiveness.
I enjoy sharing my love of reading with you each week. When readers tell me that they couldn’t put down one of the books that I recommended, I feel that I did a little part to support the literary world that has made me so happy. When someone tells me that my point of view helped clarify their political thoughts, whether they agree with me or not, I feel my words were successful. I am never trying to change your thinking, I just want you to see the other side. So yes, for those I may have helped, I do wish I could have done more.
Unfortunately, there are those I have neglected to help. About two miles from my home resides a homeless man. His meager belongings sit next to him on the sidewalk while cars whiz by never noticing him. I notice him. I have noticed him since I moved to this neighborhood. I have noticed him in the broiling sun. I have noticed him in the rain and wind. I have worried about him during hurricane warnings. I have thought about him when our normally warm weather turns freezing. The one thing that I have neglected to do is help. I think it is because I don’t know what to do...for him or the thousands like him. That is not an excuse though, and I am truly sorry.
Most of us are lucky enough to have friends and family who help us every day. I am surrounded by the kindest of people, and I never take that for granted. My nickname for Arthur is “Arthur the Good,” because he will literally stop in traffic to help strangers...which is not a safe plan in South Florida. Mike takes after his dad (honestly walked a nervous elderly lady across the street one day...and waited with her until her bus came), and Beth and my sister Judy have an overload of empathy that has changed the lives of classrooms worth of students every year. Brother-in-law Allan spends his “free” time volunteering his dental skills at a health clinic, and my amazing neighbors never miss an opportunity to offer their much appreciated assistance to anyone in need. Yes, I am deeply grateful to not only be surrounded by these people but to have the awareness of how lucky I am every single day.
I wish a very Happy New Year to all who celebrate, and I wish all who read this the awareness to appreciate the special people in their lives.
This blog has afforded me the ability to expand my wealth of friends. I used to laugh at my students who referred to their “on-line” acquaintances as their best friends, but I have learned that you don’t need face-to-face time to feel affection for people you “meet” along the way. The correspondences I have shared with some outstanding authors have added so much to my world. This week I am reviewing High Stakes by John Dobbyn, a scholarly author whom I would like to count among my friends. Although his books would be categorized as legal thrillers, they always are filled with a plethora of information on the most fascinating of topics. High Stakes was one of my favorites.
As always, a complete review of this book will follow my blog.