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The God Squad: Ending the year with a note of thanks

December 27, 2013|By Rabbi Marc Gellman

My end-of-the-year report on Tommy:

Fr. Tom Hartman, my pal and former partner in all the God Squad stuff, including this column, is still suffering with Parkinson's disease. He lives in a nursing home, where the people love him and care for him. Both his hands are stiff and he's in a wheelchair. He has trouble remembering things and even greater difficulty communicating, but I know what he means just by looking in his eyes.

I always barge into Tommy's room or his floor yelling, "I am Rabbi Marc Gellman, and I am Father Tom Hartman and we are...the God Squad." This was our closing line for each of our TV shows. For over a year, Tommy would just look up and smile and say nothing because he couldn't speak. During my last visit, I came barging in with some of Tommy's friends and launched into my God Squad closer, as usual.

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Then, for some reason, after I said our names, I stopped and looked at Tommy, who looked at me and said in a voice that was soft but clearly audible, "...and we are the God Squad!" It was my best present ever.

Even if Tommy loses his voice again, I'll know he hasn't lost his heart and his soul and his smile, which is all you need. Pray for him that this will not be his last Christmas and his last New Year's Day.

About those resolutions...

I make my New Year's resolutions on the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur in September, which has always seemed like the best time of the year to take stock of my moral life. Then, when the universal New Year comes around, I check up on how I'm doing keeping the resolutions I made in the fall.

If you want to do this for your spiritual and moral health, run through your list of New Year's resolutions around Easter (or in May for those with secular preferences). Send me not just your New Year's resolutions, but how you're doing with them when you know. Meanwhile, I hope you had a Merry Christmas and I wish to you and yours a Happy New Year!

This year, I resolved to:

1. Pray one more thank-you prayer every day. You know my fondness for the Meister Eckhart quote: "If the only prayer you ever say is thank you, it will be enough." I am saying more thank-you prayers, but I don't know if it will be enough.

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