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Gratitude as Our Core Essence 

11/22/2021 09:56:57 PM


Rabbi Ron Segal

The more often and the more regularly we receive any blessing, the less likely we are to be aware of or fully appreciate it.  What is constantly granted is easily taken for granted.  “I have often thought,” Helen Keller wrote, “that it would be a blessing if each human being were stricken blind and deaf for a few days at some time during their adult life.  Darkness would make him more appreciative of light; silence would teach her the joys of sound.”

A dear friend sent me an email this week with Thanksgiving wishes in which she also included a beautiful lesson recently shared by a Tai Chi instructor: “As we think about gratitude on this Thanksgiving Day – and on any day - don’t focus on gratitude as a final destination, an endpoint (e.g. ‘I am grateful for…  choose the particular blessing.’).  Rather, embrace gratitude as a vehicle that carries you to other destinations, to new realms of hope, love, giving, belief, peace of mind – to whatever it might unlock in your heart.  Allow yourself to be swept up into a current of gratitude and see where it will take you.”

I love this lesson, one that also resonates deeply with Jewish tradition.  In every single worship service (Shabbat, Weekday, Festival, High Holy Day), we find these words: “Modim anachnu lach - We are grateful to You, God, for our lives which are in Your hand, for our souls which are in Your keeping, for all of the miraculous blessings we experience each day, and for all of the wonders and goodness that we encounter at every time and season of our lives.”  Whether expressed in the language of Eastern thought or our own liturgical tradition, the message is rich and timeless.  Rather than merely express thanks for a blessing in our lives, let gratitude shape our core essence, let it become the attitude, energy and intention with which we experience each minute and day of our lives. 

This Thanksgiving, as we appropriately pause to express appreciation for the abundance we enjoy, may we also be inspired to embrace gratitude as the lens through which we encounter the world around us and experience anew the blessings of life, love, hope, and possibility in our lives.

Wed, December 1 2021 27 Kislev 5782