Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What are you grateful for this week?

Anyone who joins us at our Shabbat table is expected to answer that question, weekly.

Such a simple question: What are you grateful for this week?

But it makes you stop.  And think.  And through the process of articulating that for which you are grateful, it makes that gratitude real and more alive than just thinking about it and letting it just happen.

It all started like this:  When I lived in St. Louis, I was virtually adopted by the most amazing community I had experienced, and there was a particular family who often hosted me for Shabbat lunch and dinner.  Shabbat dinner at their house was a huge affair, typically with over 20 people.  And in between the soup and main courses, we would go around the table and state what we are grateful for each week.  And after each person spoke, we'd make a l'chaim.

With so many people around the table, this could take up to 30 minutes, if not more.

But no one was rushed, no one minced words, and occasionally there were tears (of gratitude) and laughter.  Now granted, not everyone was grateful for something as profound as world peace or things like that...usually people were grateful for their jobs, a roof over their head, money to pay the bills that week, a medical procedure that went well, a test in school that was aced, a successful work project, or just hitting all green lights on the way to work that day.

That was the whole beauty of it - there are so many things to be grateful for each day - do we take the time to think about all of those little bits that add up to a pretty good day?

Many people save their declarations of gratitude for Thanksgiving.  But I was so moved by this family custom that I adopted it as my own*, and now this is just what we do.  Shabbat is the perfect time to stop - think - and say thanks.

For all of the little miracles, and big ones, and everything in between.

*This family is very aware that we have adopted their custom and we always give them credit at our table.  And in a weird twist of fate, their son lived in Houston for a year for his residency so we got to see the father again.  Small world...

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