The Hebrew word for blessing is brakha. The Jewish practice of blessing, Rabbi Marcia Prager says, is a kind of “gratitude yoga we can employ not only day to day but moment to moment.” Just as the practice of keeping sabbath separates us from the physical work of the world and devotes time to rest and care of the spirit, the Jewish practice of brakha separates out time before consuming, using or enjoying something in order to create a space where one can pause and give thanks first. Or as Rabbi Marcia shares “where something other than thoughtless appropriation can unfold.”
Tradition teaches that each Jewish person should say a minimum of 100 blessings each day. In the Jewish practice, one is called not just to notice now and then that something or someone is special but to maintain and deepen a profound and sustained gratitude. Rabbi Isaac Luria from the 16th century was a great master of Jewish mystical teaching (Kabbalah) and he encouraged people to see that every object and being “as sustained by the spark of holiness within it.” Sadly, it is all too easy to walk through the busyness of our days and not notice the love that surrounds us and is us. When we take the time to pause, and notice, and give thanks, we and the world, are transformed.
I wonder where, and for what, you have paused and given thanks?
Begin with gratitude
for all you have received,
that you see and that you do not see.
Let your gratitude grow into trust
that you are included in a great wonder;
and entrust yourself to the grace you are given.
Let your trust blossom into compassion
for all those who are also part of this oneness
who have been excluded, used or targeted.
Let your compassion flourish into solidarity,
knowing you are one with those who suffer
and that their wholeness is part of yours.
Let your solidarity bear fruit in justice,
working for freedom and fullness of life for all,
against all evil and oppression.
And when you are most challenged
by the forces of injustice,
most weary and discouraged,
return to gratitude
that you are guided, accompanied,
empowered and saved;
and entrust yourself to the undying love of God.
May it be so, Jen