The shul was running early by Neilah. Shofar blowing was scheduled for 7:37, but it was 7:10 and we were closing in on the end of Chazaras HaShatz. The Shliach Tzibur slowed down his recitation. We recited the entire Avinu Malkeinu responsively (instead of just the customary nine lines). As it turned out, that was quite a moving experience. We were on an emotional high at the close of the holiest day of the year. We all sang the last Avinu Malkenu together, beseeching God to grant us favor despite our lack of merits and asking Him for His charity and kindness.
And yet, when we finished, we were still five minutes too early. So the Rav told the Shliach Tzibur to wait five minutes before we started Sh'ma Yisroel.
We all had five minutes at this emotional and spiritual high point. 300 seconds. Some patiently waited. Some read or learned. Some took the opportunity to pray. I was one of the latter group.
I had 300 seconds of unscripted, improvisitional prayer time at this most unique part of the year. I had 300 more seconds to pray for whatever I wanted, not just what was printed in the machzor. 300 final seconds to pour out my heart to God above.
Some of the things I prayed for were selfish. I prayed that my family and I enjoy good health and happiness during the coming year. I prayed that we have good parnassah. I prayed that Walter do well in his new school and continue to grow in Torah. I prayed that George overcome his social issues and find happiness and friends. I prayed that Wilma continue to be the sweet, loveable girl that she is becoming. I prayed that Fred (the collective name for our kids) grow up to be people who are involved in Torah and Mitzvos their entire lives and be people that everyone in K'lal Yisroel can be proud of. I prayed that Eeees and I both have success in graduate school.
I also prayed that a wonderful single girl whom Eeees and I know finally finds her chosson. I also prayed that those who are waiting for children finally be granted them. I prayed that specific people who suffer from various physical ailments be granted a complete recovery; along with all the other people who need a complete recovery.
At some point, I moved on to things that were beyond the realm of my own circle. I prayed that this year there should be peace in K'lal Yisroel; that the various factions should stop fighting with one another. I prayed that it should be a year of greater understanding between the members of our seemingly hopelessly fractured nation. I prayed that this should be a year in which poverty and crime should be unknown among our people. I prayed that it should be a year in which everyone's prayers should be answered in the best way possible.
And I finished by praying that it should be a year in which we finally see the coming of Moshiach.
And just as I finished, the chazzan called out "Sh'ma Yisroel..." My 300 special seconds were up.