For the sin that I have sinned before you in not calling my parents and in-laws more often.
Why? I was “busy”? Busy with what? What could be more important than family? Suddenly, with forced separation between grandchildren and grandparents, with renewed awareness that those over 60 are vulnerable, we have come to realize how very precious our parents and in-laws are in our lives. How could I have let all those days slip by without a short check-in? I’m not satisfied with a simple phone call anymore. If technology has afforded us the opportunity for FaceTime, then why would I deprive our children and our parents the opportunity to see one another, even for five minutes, in our daily lives?
For the sin that I have sinned before you in outsourcing our children’s education.
Now that our children are home all day, I realize all the things I have failed to teach them. Why did I never teach them to cook? Why did I never teach them to clean? Why did I never take a greater interest in what their teachers were teaching? I have been eavesdropping on their distance learning, and I’m more involved than ever in what is going on at school. Our normal lives make it seductively tempting to just leave all the learning responsibilities to the professionals. But the onus of our child’s education is actually on us. Our schools and our teachers are our partners in this endeavor, but we should never have abdicated responsibility for molding these young people into responsible and caring adults. How many times have I said, “Why aren’t they teaching this at school?” The real question should have been, ”Why am I not teaching this at home?”
For the sin that I have sinned before you in ignoring my neighbors.
Our wonderful University Heights mayor, Michael Dylan Brennan, has suggested that at 6:30 PM daily, we all step outside into our driveways and check on our neighbors. On my block, Churchill Boulevard, we have been practicing this all week. It is a short 10-minute opportunity to chat with our neighbors from six feet away and just say hello. How has our society evolved to the point where six months can go by, and I haven’t seen my neighbor except on our texting chat? We have been bullied by the monster of busyness. I deeply regret that this most basic human interaction has gotten so very lost. If there’s one thing that Mr. Fred Rogers has left us as a legacy, it’s the power of a neighbor and a neighborhood. I hope I will not regress when everything goes back to “normal.”
For the sin that I have sinned before you in rushing through my prayers.
Every morning and every evening now, our family gathers for prayers. We sing out loud and sometimes dance. We are learning each other‘s tunes and prayer habits. I am embarrassed to confess in public how many mornings I have rushed through my prayers or postponed them indefinitely until it was too late, because obviously I had so many other things to do. This past Shabbat we took the little Torah that my grandmother bought my son for his third birthday, and danced around the house with it. I had tears in my eyes, wondering why we had never done this before.
For the sin that I have sinned before you in being out so many evenings.
The slow, unhurried pace of our days, but especially our evenings, has been a balm for the soul. I wistfully yearn for a time when this will be normal. But what should I cancel? All the classes that I teach? My friends’ events that they have worked hard on and that are important to them? Getting together with friends who work all day and are only available in the evening? School events? I don’t have any answers, but I do have many regrets. I am simply doing too much and I don’t know what to let go of when all of this craziness ends.
And for all of these, please God, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.