Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I'm Sorry Week

We’re in the midst of one of my favorite weeks of the year—the ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. This is the time all my Jewish friends call me up to say they’re sorry.

Well, I actually have only one Jewish friend and I’m not really sure the other Jews take Yom Kippur as seriously as Nancy Greenfield does. But I will never forget the first year she called me up on the telephone, totally out of the blue, specifically to say that if she had offended me in any way in the past year she was sorry.

I was touched. Most of the time in my relationships with others I’m usually the one who screws up and needs to apologize. As my friend, Kit, says: “In any friendship one person always has to be the patient one.” And in my friendship with Kit I have to say that she has always been the patient one.

So it touched me to have Nancy call just to say she’s sorry. She gave me a little time there on the phone to think back on the year to see if I could come up with any unfinished business we needed to hash out. I couldn’t think of anything.

Nancy is one of those wonderful, independent, positive people that I love to have around me. She’s open minded, intelligent, enthusiastic and loving. I can’t imagine her intentionally hurting a fly. We talked a little about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. One year I babysat her kids for her and Richard while they went to Yom Kippur services and the kids were too young to take. (This is one of the reasons Christians and Jews should always keep a friend of the other religion handy; I wasn’t doing anything that night and all her other friends would be in temple with her. I’m sure if anyone needs a babysitter Christmas Eve Nancy would be glad to help out.)

I think the next year she only mentioned in passing that she was sorry if she had offended me but that was OK. It was still important to her. By that time our friendship had deepened to the point where we knew we would forgive each other just about anything. Our friendship was important enough that we wouldn’t let go of it lightly, not without a serious effort to bridge any gap whether it was a holiday or any other day. It honors me to call her my friend. Nancy is one of those people that make you just glad there are people on earth like that. The world is improved by her presence.

That’s why I’ve had her on the prayer list at our church ever since the breast cancer she fought a couple of years ago returned last year. Thankfully, she’s doing well and has her strength back after a couple more surgeries. When I had lunch with her last week she was preparing a Rosh Hashana dinner for 14 people. I’d call that pretty much back to normal for Nancy.

I’m not sure what you call this week, whether Jews call it the “I’m Sorry Week.” I know Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year when all the scripture readings start over again. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, in which the book of the last year is closed, kind of like an accountant closes the records for the year and starts over. It’s important to Nancy that her records be clean and in good shape. So in between the two holidays she checks in with friends and family to settle up her accounts.

This isn’t such a bad idea for anyone, no matter their religion. I’m not sure Christians have anything like that. Well, OK, we have that Grace thing that pretty much takes care of stuff between God and me. But what about between me and my friend Kit or Linda or Debbie? Shouldn’t I periodically check in to make sure we’re OK with each other? It certainly couldn’t hurt. I should apologize to friends for all the times I didn’t answer their emails until the next day….the times I took the cheap laugh at someone’s expense just because I could….the birthday cards that arrived too late…

If you get any phone calls from me this week be sure to answer the phone. I may be apologizing.

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