That's my kitchen mezuzah in the picture above and I just snapped the photo. I'm already getting prepared for tonight. The table is set, the challah is fresh and hot, bright new flowers are arranged alongside the candles and kiddush wine. We'll share our table tonight with friends. I'm excited.

But OK, this blog is about the mezuzah again. Really, I didn't expect that the simple, little ritual of kissing that pretty object hanging on my doorpost would change my life so much, but it has.

Since I've been pausing longer at the mezuzahs in my home to reflect on what I'm grateful for, I find that I'm thinking about God A LOT.

I have a friend, an attorney, who used to actually keep a tiny alarm that reminded her hourly to pause and remember God. I use the mezuzah for that purpose. And I'm finding that by lingering each time I walk in or out of a room for an extended period of time that it's actually changing my overall consciousness. I feel God's presence more frequently and more readily. I'm more deeply grateful for everything in my life. My very recent battle with negativity - my first ever - is dissipating. When people call and say, "how are you doing?", I spontaneously and sincerely find myself saying, "Fabulous!!". Stopping frequently to give thanks for each aspect of my life is changing the way I feel throughout the day and evening. I'm a little awed by these fresh feelings of joy.

Most of the time as I pause by my mezuzah, my gratefulness gushes out, but there are certainly times it's a struggle. Yesterday, for instance, I walked out of my office feeling utterly frazzled. Only a fraction of my to-do list had been completed. Four different telephone lines had rung incessantly all morning. I had woken up too early - a REALLY bad thing for me. I needed a new, part-time staff member and none of my assistants had been available all week to help me out. Trying to concentrate on any task was difficult because I kept thinking of something that was more important - how could I prioritize when it was ALL priority? How the hell would I figure out which task to tackle?

I walked out of my office and paused at the mezuzah like I always do. I couldn't figure out what to be thankful for, other than a job that at the moment was driving me insane. As I stood there, however, I felt a wave of serenity. The mezuzah, I realized, had become a simple and powerful reminder of God's presence, even when gratefulness didn't immediately bubble up. Even when I was having a bad day. The mezuzah prompted me to take a breath and move into a difference mental space as I moved into a different physical space. I took a deep breath and headed down to the kitchen for lunch. And as I did, I felt again a deep gratitude for my life.

Today I added something else to this ritual. The mezuzah contains the Shema and the verses that follow the Shema, so this morning when I arrived home from class, I stopped at the mezuzah to give thanks for what I learned today and what that learning is preparing me for (rabbinical school!!). But I also spoke the Shema aloud. Because while I'll always have something to be grateful for when I walk into and out of any room, as I leave or arrive home, I also simply want to remind myself that along with the blessings of my life, the greatest of all is the presence of God.

Shabbat Shalom!