It finally happened.
After living in the US for 15 years, I finally did what Americans do in the summer: I sent my ten year old daughter daughter to overnight camp!
Now, I am still not a fan of the American three-month summer vacation, and I greatly prefer the South African system I grew up in, where the summer break is much shorter, but that's for another article.
So, I sent my daughter to overnight camp for the very first time, and I had no idea how much I would miss her. It's not a very long camp, just two weeks, but boy do I miss her! I know she's having a wonderful, exciting time, but I've never been away from her for this long, ever!
A few days into camp she called, but could only speak for five minutes. As expected, she is playing hard, making new friends, and loving every minute. A week in we received a letter from her, and next week she already returns. I love her so much and I can't wait!
Now I have an inkling of how hard it is for our Father in Heaven when we are away "at camp."
You see, for 11 months of the year, most of us drift away from our Father. We are in "camp." We've been removed from spirituality, haven't interacted much with G-d, and haven't kept up with His commandments as well as we should have.
G-d loves us so much - He misses us!
From time to time we may have made a quick "phone call" to G-d. We may have popped into shul, given a few token coins to tzeddakah or mumbled off some blessings by rote. We may have event "sent a letter," but for the most part we've been away.
But come this Shabbat, we will be ushering in the new month of Elul with the blessing over the new moon. Elul signifies the end of "camp;" the time to return home. It's a month of repentance, and every day we listen the shofar being blown in order to awaken ourselves spiritually.
And now I can imagine how excited G-d must be to greet us during this auspicious month.
Let's go home. G-d misses us!