We just celebrated Thanksgiving with extended family, for whom we love and are grateful. I won’t lie, though… The drive was long and exhausting. We didn’t sleep well, and I felt lethargic for a few days. A cherished child’s motorcycle of Noah’s had been stolen. Grandpa didn’t feel up to taking the boys out shooting with the bb gun like we had planned on. There was a bit too much TV watching. I wished I could have compensated, and that we could have been our best selves, but I am saved by the grace that comes with…gratitude.
When I’m at the end of my rope, bubbling to the brim with Brinly blueberry-monsterness akin to the likes of Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, I turn to gratitude. When I’m as desperate as a man without a paddle, I turn to gratitude. When I’m as lost as a two-year-old screaming for the mama they can’t find (and who might happen to be in the bathroom), I turn to gratitude. When I’m disappointed that something is broken, changed, or messed up…I TRY…to turn to gratitude. Hopefully, I turn there before I get lost in other emotions, because it never fails to rescue me.
One of the most important parts of the daily prayer book in Judaism is the Amidah, estimated to have been written roughly 2000 years ago. If you need an attitude adjustment, check out the text of the section titled modim (“we thank”) or hoda’ah (thanks/gratitude, and also acknowledgement/submission). This 18th blessing within the Amidah recites:
We thankfully acknowledge that You are the L-rd our G d and G d of our fathers forever. You are the strength of our life, the shield of our salvation in every generation. We will give thanks to You and recount Your praise, evening, morning and noon, for our lives which are committed into Your hand, for our souls which are entrusted to You, for Your miracles which are with us daily, and for Your continual wonders and beneficences. You are the Beneficent One, for Your mercies never cease; the Merciful One, for Your kindnesses never end; for we always place our hope in You.
We place our hope in YOU it says. Because Hashem (lit “The Name”…the mighty, precious, beautiful “Name” of G-d) is a peace, a provision, and a place that can always be trusted. His kindnesses NEVER end. No matter how much your nose is down in the dirt, how black the cloud is over your head, or how bleak the outlook you think is part of your future…His love is there.
Sometimes I am in a pit, and I need to get out. Sometimes I want someone to be there to pull me out, but there is no one. What do I do? If my eyes are shut, brimming with tears, I can open them, and say THANK YOU. I can take a deep breath, and think of what I am thankful for, and say it out loud.
Rabbi Levi Potash wrote recently about Thanksgiving that, “Most importantly it is the time to express our gratitude to Hashem for all the blessings that he bestows upon us daily, hourly and even every moment… and having gratitude and developing more of it in ourselves has a great fringe benefit for us to lead a more enjoyable life. When we have an attitude of s’kumpt mir – entitlement, then no matter what blessings we have in our life, it is not good enough. It is never good enough. We are always expecting more and better. On the other hand, the more gratitude we have, the less expectations we have. Then everything in life is a pleasant and surprising gift. The less expectations we have in life the more we can enjoy the blessings that we do have.”
Who is rich? Those who rejoice in what they have. (Pirkei Avot, 4:1).
I am not always thankful for lollipops and ice cream, but I know someone who is. And I LOVE where her attitude leads…
I thank G-d for his many blessings, and I thank each person reading this for taking a moment to connect with us. May you be blessed with a grateful attitude!