Originally posted November 29, 2009

Yesterday during prayer service, my rabbi, Adam Raskin, reminded us of the Jewish tradition of saying 100 blessings a day. Numbers in Judaism are symbolic, not literal, and Rabbi Raskin's point was that if we pause to feel a sense of gratefulness for each aspect of life, we can also recapture our sense of wonder. Gratefulness and wonder go hand in hand.

On the way home, I decided to notice all the things in a single day for which I feel grateful. Not to make anything up, just to notice. To pause for a second when I encounter something good in my life, closing my eyes and feeling a rush of gratitude.

The sheer number of opportunities I had even before sundown amazed me. That morning, for instance, I had awoke feeling happy. How many people just wake up? I woke up happy! That is something to be grateful for! Rather than just making a mental list of blessings, I paused to feel the rush of joy that accompanies them: the many deeply spiritual moments of our prayer service that morning, the deep love I feel for the people I pray and sing and eat with every week, the quietness of our drive home and the physical beauty of the city I live just outside of, the nature I'm surrounded by in our suburb, the sentence in my book that grabbed me and changed my life in some little way, the physical and emotional closeness of my husband. And that was just the start of my day.

I didn't have to struggle to find any of that. I simply had to pause to soak up the joy and gratitude and wonder.

Jewish blessings begin with baruch ata Adonai... Blessed are you, Lord our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who sustains or restores or strengthens or guides or enables or... (fill in the blank). That form (with a poetic "translation" for Sovereign) resonates with me, and although I obviously can't use it all the time, I use it often. Why? Because while I'm grateful for so many things in my life, that rush of joy or sense of shalom (wholeness) I feel is, for me, synonymous with the Breath of God. In other words, I don't merely feel gratitude for an aspect of my life, I feel the Divine Presence in each blessing.

Do I believe God gave me, personally, some particular blessing and withheld it from someone else? Not in any way. Do I believe in a God that breathes life into and permeates all that exists? Oh Yes!

It only takes a few seconds to close my eyes and feel that sense of gratitude and wonder and if I did that only 30 times, I've taken only a few minutes out of my day. Yet those are minutes that can change the entire demeanor of that day. For this I have to say, Baruch ata Adonai Eloheynu, Melech haOlam.

Have a blessing-filled week!