Today, as is in every day, I feel grateful. I give thanks that I constitute a point within the picture of Creation. I am glad that I live in Israel. I am appreciative that when I shove over my ego, it's possible for me to make room enough for The Borai Alma, The Creator of the World.
Baruch Hashem, B’ayin tova, this span of my life has been a time of “folded fish.”
That is, in this life parsha, I’ve had reason to buy sea birds so large that they literally had to be folded to fit into my oven. I’ve merited hosting sheva brachot, enjoying the Yomim Noraim, adding light during Chanukah, and participating in milestone festivities for my loved ones.
In addition to the challenges/stepping stones to elevation that Ha Kodesh Baruchu has given me, I’ve also experienced, BH, moments of bald luminosity.That is, while I’ve been pumping up via the “strengthening exercises” that some people mistakenly called “trials and tribulations,” I’ve also been fortified by palpable goodness.
Just yesterday afternoon, for instance, Missy Younger and I were given the chance to befriend a pair of dumpster cats. Whereas most locals look askance at those feral critters, my family had raised many of their domesticated cousins before making aliyah. Accordingly, my daughter and I were happy to hear, once more, the deep rumble indigenous to such soft-coated animals.
Prior, I was lucky to be out with Younger Dude at a “sushi experience.” A restaurant that we enjoy, but that is usually beyond our means, was having a special. We anticipated being able to eat our fill of raw fish and vinegared rice instead of having to portion out a single shared order of such pieces. What we hadn’t expected was the gracious hospitality of the owner or the care with which the sushi chef made those costly rolls. In truth, just having had the time to sit quietly and to speak, uninterrupted by daily mundanities, with my youngest child, was glory enough for me. That the establishment went out of its way to nurture us made that shared moment that much nicer.
What’s more, that same day, Missy Younger and I walked around this holiest of cities. Given my recent history of back and knees injuries, it was a joy to be able to move on my own power.
Yet, I don’t have to leave my four amot to embrace a better, i.e. a more appreciative attitude. I don’t have to spend any money in order to integrate the good, b’ayin tova, that is mine. The notion of sameiach b’chelko, of taking pleasure in one's physical possessions (versus longing for more or for other ones), and the notion of simchah b'mitzuah, finding happiness in doing God's will (versus “trying to run the universe”), are approaches to life that I can integrate all of the time, even during times of seeming distress.
First, The Boss hasn’t brought me this far only to drop me. I’m still breathing and am again able to get around. Further, my limits have never been actually barriers, but means for me to reattach myself to The Source. I never made any kind of progress on my own. It is to my advantage to acknowledge and to praise the eternal source of all of my aid.
Second, as long as I am still of this world, I get to serve HaKodesh Baruchu. In the Shema, which I recite before bed, upon waking, and before I pray the Shemonah Esra, there is a line which translates to “Blessed is His Name and His Glorious Kingdom forever and ever.” That portion of prayer reminds me that I am fortunate to be able to serve Hashem. It’s not possible for me to simultaneously be an authority on how my life ought to progress and to report to The Authority. Rather than mistakenly position myself outside of answerability, rather than destroy, on any level, my own blessings, it behooves me to be obedient and to give thanks.
Third, BH, I have a family. My husband still calls me his darling and my kids still ooze or drip (depending on the situation) with affection for their mom. I’m beginning to learn (and it’s about time, given that I’m in my sixth decade) that I can disagree with or be disagreed with by my intimate others and, concurrently, take pleasure in my relationships with them. As my sons and daughters are either in or are approaching their twenties, it’s a good idea for me to acknowledge that their array of modess of developing identities is meaningful and that I am fortunate to witness their evolutions.
Fourth, I am privileged to live in Eretz Yisrael, the land that The Aibishter fashioned as the Jewish home, the area where there exists more kedusha than anywhere else in the world. It is a special opportunity to be able to live here. Sadly, in the goings on of my days and nights, I make too little of this honor. At times, though, BH, I wake up enough to celebrate this plus.
Fifth, daily, I have the chance to use my resources to engage in discourse that unites the klal. I can use words to prompt myself not to focus on incommensurabilities. It remains the case that evoking anger and resentment rarely changes others’ behaviors. Additionally, I am not supposed to judge other Jews and can not, with exactitude, really make moral calls about other people. Since our tribe is as strong as are our connections to each other, I can and need to employ my voice to build on commonalities.
Whether I am folding fish into my oven, singing Hallel on Sukkot, celebrating a new kallah and chatan, petting an urban cat, walking entire city blocks, or glorying in my ongoing ability to be of some use to The Master, this frumpy mom has what to be grateful for. Every day in my life, when I look with good eyes,is a time for me for hodaya, for thanking G-d.