When Gd Owes Us Teshuva

We see images of children bloodied and pulled from rubble every day now. There are so many police shootings that we can barely keep up with the names of those whose families have only been mourning them for a month or two. (Keith Scott, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice… there are many more, but why are there any of these deaths at all? Every single one is a horror.) There are dangerous people running for important elected positions in our country, and they might actually win.

What do we do when we feel like Gd owes us teshuva?

Thinking back on 5776, I have a hard time bringing myself to ask for forgiveness from Gd. 5776 was the year that the Orlando Pulse shooting happened during Pride, it was the year when terrorist attacks around the world reached a feverish pitch over the summer, it was a year when thousands of unarmed black people were killed by police, it was a year when rapists went unpunished, it was a year when Michigan children got poisoned from water, it was a year when both Prince and David Bowie died, it was a year when bees got on the endangered species list, and it was yet another year when I remained childless. Come on, Gd, give us a freaking break here! This world can be very, very hard.

I usually start by thinking of ways in which I owe teshuva to Gd and my loved ones, but this year I’m going to do things differently. This year I’m going to ask teshuva of myself.

Dear Self,

I am sorry.

I am sorry for always being too busy.

I am sorry for not letting myself cry.

I am sorry for all the ways I have not taken care of myself in this crazy world full of strife and sorrow.

I am sorry for making myself go to work when I’m still getting over a cold.

There is so much that is hard out there, and I think many of us match that hardness by being hard ourselves.

We are so strong, and so brave, so put together on the outside…

But that strength and hardness does not help heal the world.

Allowing ourselves space to be vulnerable heals the world.

I am sorry I wasn’t vulnerable more often.

I am sorry I always said “fine, and you?”

I am sorry for not pausing to feel my feelings before I paused to collect myself.

I am sorry for not pausing to reflect more.

I am sorry for not pausing to witness beauty.

I am sorry for rushing places, especially on beautiful days. There is never any reason to rush; either I left early enough, or I didn’t. If I didn’t, being reckless and careless won’t help me get anywhere faster. I might as well enjoy the world as it presents itself in front of me.

I am sorry for not celebrating the beauty of the world more. There is art! There is music! There are leaves!

I am sorry for not going outside enough.

I am sorry for not breathing deeply.

I am sorry for not honoring my body with exercise.

I am sorry for not planting more flowers.

I am sorry for not watching more sunrises.

Dear Self, sweet Self, broken Self, I am sorry for all of these moments of hurt.

I am sorry for these sins against… you? Us? Me?

Regardless of the pronouns to address, I am sorry.

I am sorry, me.

I am sorry, self.

And maybe also, I am sorry, Gd.

Shana tova and gmar chatima tova, friends. A good year to us all.

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