Before long, the diners in the booth behind us got up to leave. We were surprised to see that it was Bruce and Sandy, friends of ours who we hadn’t noticed when we walked in. Sandy said, “You have to be careful what you say, because you never know who’s sitting at the next table.” Sound check. Rewind. Replay. Did we say anything too personal or potentially offensive? Just like the usher who was a bit too honest in his criticism when seating the Rabbi’s mother, I have been known to share a confidence with the wrong person at the wrong time.
I used to like to gossip. Back in the day, a juicy tidbit about a failing marriage, legal troubles, or a large weight gain would get my attention. Somewhere along the way it changed, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s not that my BFF and I don’t talk about that kind of stuff, we do, but now it doesn’t matter so much. We’re kinder in our criticism and more often than not, we end up empathizing with the problem. Live long enough and you find that gossip is ugly, especially when you’re the one who has been through a divorce, needed a lawyer, and have hips that carry a few too many pounds— lessons learned.
The Jewish are here. In less than two weeks, synagogues all over the world will be filled to capacity with Jews ushering in a new year and praying for redemption. Rabbis are writing their sermons, carefully honing their message so that their congregants will not find them boring. For the most part, we do listen when someone else is talking. Whether the words are coming from the pulpit, or the tall booth next to yours in a restaurant, attach a spirit of listening to the conversations around you that honors your fellow man, yourself and God.
If only I could take them back!
But the words flew
out of my thoughtless mouth
like a bullet out of a gun.
I watched it pierce,
the pain welling up in my friend's eyes.
I felt it ricochet through me, too,
gutting me to the heart.
There seems no end to the ways
that words can harm.
I, alone, cannot fix this.
Dear friend, the only friend
my cruelty can never alienate:
I ask You for forgiveness.
I ask You to give me the right words,
words to mend fences,
words to patch wounds,
words to repair what has been broken.
Open my friend's heart
that she might receive my apology.
And slow my tongue in future,
that I might never wound again.