I asked you, dear readers, to join me in the hunt for truly novel and spiritually impactful New Year's resolutions. You flooded the inbox of my life. Thank you. Here is a sampling of some of the things some of you will sometimes try to sometimes do …
From S in Branford, Connecticut: My resolutions are to be kind and to stay positive. I have always tried to have a "glass half full" attitude, but 2020 made that a challenge. I count my blessings when I feel down and remember how fortunate I am despite bumps in the road. I can't wait to get vaccinated and will do so as soon as I can!
MG: Amen, dear S. Remember Meister Eckhardt's wisdom, "If the only prayer you ever say is 'Thank You!,' it will be enough."
From M in Palm Beach, Florida: Your resolution to give to beggars reminded me of what the Lord brings to me when I see someone in that situation. It's found in Matthew 25:40: "I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me." I believe like you, we never know when or where we will see the face of God. I've been drawn to a resolution this year that is unlike anything I've attempted in my 71 years. My resolution is to be at PEACE in the coming year no matter what life's circumstances may bring me. It's God's enduring peace that I seek to understand through his love and faithfulness and my acceptance for what is, for with acceptance comes peace. It brings out a gratitude and fosters contentment for every gift the Lord has given to me in whatever package it has arrived in whether it be filled with joy or sadness. I will continue to seek His guidance and His word each day of the new year and hopefully grow to know him better.
MG: Both Matthew and the early rabbis agreed that God is most likely to be seen in those who sleep in the dust.
From L: I resolve to be kinder to myself. The past five years have been difficult and 2020 was supposed to be a new start as I looked forward to improved living conditions. But instead I would advise anyone to NOT move during a pandemic, especially during lockdown. All I could pray for at the beginning of March was "Lord, why can't you let me have a break?!" I moved — with very little help and less furniture — and then sold my house. It was a long year, especially since March seemed to have about 539 days in it. And now I just want to move forward, to look after myself, enjoy my hobbies and my family, and exercise more.
MG: Dear L, In the year ahead if you ever find yourself being too hard on yourself, just write to me and I promise to be kind to you. Happy New Year!
From V: My resolution is to know my boundaries better. My lovely daughter suggested it, and I took that as a sign. We decided to use the code word "colors" when in company. She then can remind me to know my colors. Funny, isn't she? Good wishes on your resolutions. We look forward to the vaccine! I've just started reading this column, but it is so right-on and funny! Happy New Year, Rabbi.
MG: Well, you seem so kind and sensitive that unless you dance naked in the rain, I cannot imagine what boundaries you regularly transgress. I am not sure your daughter's solution will work. What's wrong with a gentle nudge or a stern look or a little kick? However, my dear V, I am just glad you still have edges.
SEND QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS to The God Squad at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rabbi Marc Gellman, Temple Beth Torah, 35 Bagatelle Rd., Melville, NY 11747.