I've been trying to practice the Jewish idea of berakhot, or words of praise to You, spoken as blessings all throughout each day. Actually, if I understand it correctly, observant Jews strive to give You 100 blessings each day. Anyway, I'm trying to start and end each day with gratitude expressed as berakhot, and sprinkle them all through my day, too. Last night I fell asleep with these thoughts literally dancing in my mind:
Blessed are You, O God, King of the Universe, who gives me rest each night.
Blessed are You, O God, King of the Universe, who makes feathers for the pillows on which I rest my head.
Blessed are You, O God, King of the Universe, who gives me good health.
Blessed are You, O God, King of the Universe, who has given me J. and three wonderful children--T. and D. and S. and five beautiful grandchildren--C., O., J., M., and D.L.
...on and on I blessed You until I drifted into peaceful sleep.
This morning before my feet touched the floor I remembered to start the berakhot again.
Blessed are You, O God, King of the Universe, who gives me eyes to see, and who opened them for me this morning.
Blessed are You, O God, King of the Universe, who gives me legs to walk, hands to touch and hold the beautiful things around me.
Blessed are You, O God, King of the Universe,who gives me clean water to wash my face...
When I first started the practice it felt awkward, artificial. It felt like I was just repeating words over and over. But, after a few days those repetitious words took on depth and beauty and emotion.
Now, each time I say them they aren't vain repetitions. They are prayers. They are my heart stretching to touch Your heart.
"O, God"--to think, You are MY God.
"King of the Universe"--despite our pathetic little efforts to control each other and rule the world there is really only ONE who rules everything created, and that is You.
"who gives me"--all that I have comes from You. All that I am comes from You. All that I own, all that I owe, all that I enjoy, all that I complain about, all that I dream of--it is all a gift from You.
I want to bless you, Little One, so that you will bless me with your gratitude and praise. Whether you learn the attitude of gratitude through berakhot or through 1000 Gifts or a Blessing Box or however, it's important that your life flow out of a heart of gratitude.
Yes, I love it when you bless Me, when you praise Me, when you thank Me. It is joy to My heart, too. It is a sweet fragrance to Me. It is a refreshing breeze blowing through heaven when you thank Me.
But you love it, too. It is good for YOU to live daily with a heart of thanksgiving. It makes YOUR life better to thank Me for every little gift.
You blessing Me, so that I can bless you, so that you can bless Me, so that...
What a beautiful, endless circle. Berakhot.