As the Jewish Day of Atonement approaches, I am compiling my list of people to whom I must make amends.
But humans have not been the only recipients of my spiritual stumbles and more egregious missteps. There’s a big debt of regret I owe to one adored female second only to my wife: our girl, Lilly, the Boston terrier.
It would be so easy to excuse myself or dismiss these infractions as trivial - not so much if I fancy myself as anything of an evolving being.
There’s an adage whose source is a mystery to me, but whose truth remains timeless: you can tell a lot about a person’s character by how he or she reacts to adversity.
While I believe I handle most of the “big stuff” pretty well, I still sometimes react to lesser challenges with exasperated sighs, teenage-eye-rolls and a put-upon shake of the head. At other times, I can be downright dour and distant.
The other day, I came home fuming about how I could not get or receive calls because my iPhone was stuck on “one bar.” I huffed past my smiling wife, Susan, (who was cooking my dinner) and rebuffed Lilly’s playful greeting, all because life had become so inconvenient.
The fact that the phone folly later turned out to be a fairly easy fix was not the point. My sin was that I allowed some minor, external event to steal my attention - and affection - toward that which I hold most dear: my family, all of my family.
Al chet she’chatanu l’fanekha biv’li da’at, v’al chet she’chatanu l’fanekha b’vituy s’fatyim.
[We have sinned against You by acting without thinking; and we have sinned against You by speaking perversely.]
It took a few moments for my lapse of consciousness to sink in after which I immediately hugged my wife and cuddled our girl (I’ll need to remind myself often how forgiving they were!).
How many other times have I allowed life’s irritations to trump my love for Susan and Lilly? I have prepared my amends to Susan and am ready to make good.
Now, it’s Lilly’s turn.
I’m sorry, baby girl, for the caresses you should have had but not for my petty thoughts and internal dialogue. I’m sorry for the times I raised my voice about nothing really important and making you want to run for cover like I did when my parents used to argue. I’m sorry for the times when surfing for the latest political dirt was more important than playing fetch. I’m sorry for the times when hating something or someone mattered more to me than loving you.
Lilly, when we go for walks from now on, my pockets will be too full of treats and toys to hold any grudges.