Dear Dude who lives on Manning Street who who I see outside every morning at 7:15 AM,
You do not know who I am, and I don't know you; but you inspire me greatly. You don't know me, and likely have never seen me, but I feel like I have known you for years. I, like many other passengers in automotive vehicles frequent the street in which you live. Your street helps me get from one point to the next. And by passing your house every morning, I have observed you do one thing for which you have become a profound role model: You spend time time with your daughter. In the freezing winter, this meant simply waiting with her in the bitter cold, as she awaited her school bus. In the spring it has meant playing catch with a baseball in front of your house, awaiting the bus. But you don't just spend time with her, playing catch when you know it will only be for a short time before her bus comes. Because I have also seen you outside on the weekend with her, with no place to go, tossing a ball back and forth with lacrosse sticks.
At first I was unsure why exactly watching you had been so inspiring to me. And then I recalled my own youth, where my parents did the exact same thing: My pops played catch with me, coached my baseball teams, and hit my groundballs. And my momma was cheering me on in the bleachers. And perhaps without even consciously realizing it at the time, the love that they were showing me seeped into my bones, enabling me to feel secure, confident, happy, and beloved.
One of the three things the Torah contractually requires a man to provide for his wife is "onah." There are different understandings as to what exactly this word means, but I have heard quoted in the name if a tremendously brilliant and righteous rabbi, that in its most simple form, "onah" means time. In modern hebrew, "onah" means "season." Thus, according to this most literal understanding of the verse describing a man's legal obligations to his wife is that he must give her time. Perhaps this means that they have dinner together. And during dinner, the TV is off, the cell phone is charging in the other room, and the newspapers (if the couple is archaic and still gets newspapers) are put away. It is just one-on-one time-- an opportunity for the couple to connect and to convey the feeling of how they thoroughly enjoy being in the presence of their beloved.
This idea is a secret for success in any relationship today in which we find ourselves: with a friend, a spouse, or a child. We need to give one another time. Sometimes it is hard, in a world with so many distractions: we could be checking our email on our iphones, or speaking to Siri, or avoid spending time with someone by emailing or texting them. Yet it is obvious that the most cherished, scarce, fleeting gift we have is time. What possible better way to show you love someone, than by investing your precious time in them.
For this profound lesson, Dude who Lives on Manning, I thank you.