Archive for September, 2010

This is Just to Say…

We are entering the season of apologies, as we (the Jewish People)  reflect on the past year and try to remember those who we have slighted, seek them out, apologize to them and ask for their forgiveness. I remember in my role as Temple President standing in front of the congregation right before the beginning of High Holiday services and reading the following aloud:

“For transgressions against God, the Day of Atonement atones; but for transgressions against one human being against another, the Day of Atonement does not atone until they have made peace with one another. “

It is not easy to say you’re sorry. It is also not easy to forgive someone who has hurt you. When I was a child, if my sister and I fought (a common occurrence) my mother would make her and me sit facing each other until we could say, “I love you” to one another. (Hmmm…perhaps this would work with Congress to get our country working again? But I digress…) This often lengthy process usually started with taunts, but eventually we would be laughing and giggling together filled with sisterly love…until the next time.

This is all to say that I am excited to share a wonderful book I recently discovered that is simply perfect for this time of year:

This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness by Joyce Sidman.  Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007. Ages 6-10.

This book is filled with poems expressing sadness over mistakes made, promises unfulfilled, hearts broken and any of a number of life’s traumas for which children (and adults) need forgiveness. Each poem begging/seeking forgiveness is followed in section two by a poem granting or denying said request.  My two favorite poems are not paired with each other, but give you an example of the depth and breadth of the writing.

The first written by Anthony to his mother is entitled “Spelling Bomb”:

I can’t believe I lost. /I know I disappointed you./ Do you really think I don’t care? /I know how important it is to win.

I know I disappointed you;/ I saw it in your face when I misspelled./ I know how important it is to win; / I studied hours and hours.

I saw it in your face when I misspelled. / I saw you turn away from me. / Even though I study hours and hours, / I never seem to be your champion….”

Is your heart breaking? This goes on for two more verses. Anthony conveys that feeling some of us have experienced when we have tried our hardest yet still managed to let our parents’ down.

I wish Anthony had received this written by Bao Vang to her friend Mai Lee and entitled, “The River of Forgiveness“:

“Here I am, / reading Mai Lee’s poem./I am wading into the river of forgiveness. / Thinking of alarm bells, / of breaking glass, of confusion, / and the fear that crushes your heart / when you have done nothing wrong. / I feel cold and alone. fighting / the water as it pulls at me and fills me eyes. / Will I ever make it across? / I keep thinking of a friend / who helped explain the world, / whose arm is always around my shoulder, / a friend who stands with me in the crowd. / … / I’ve crossed the river of forgiveness. / I open my arms to her.”

Saying, “I’m sorry” is hard. Saying, “I forgive you” is hard. Perhaps we could change the world by accepting that none of us is perfect, we all make mistakes and peace between family and friends is the best peace of all.

Wishing you a Shana Tova, a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.


©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
The Book used in this review came from my local library.
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