a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Remembering the Little Blessings

Posted on: March 12, 2012

מוֹדֶה (מוֹדָה) אֲנִי לְפָנֶֽיךָ מֶֽלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּים. שֶׁהֶֽחֱזַֽרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְחֶמְלָה. רַבָּה אֱמֽוּנָתֶֽךָ

Modeh ani lifanekha melekh ḥai v’kayam sheheḥezarta bi nishmahti b’ḥemlah, rabah emunatekha.

I offer thanks before you, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.

According to tradition, as soon as you open your eyes this prayer should be on your lips.  It’s a prayer of thanksgiving to Gd for allowing us to wake up each morning, a miracle when you think about it because do we ever really know what happens when we sleep?  Truthfully speaking, I pray the Modeh Ani at any time between waking, showering, making juice, walking to the train or on the train.  Usually I have it said by the time I’m two stops into my commute.   I’m usually reminded by something that I see or hear.  The sound of birds chirping, a child walking hand-in-hand with its parent, a kind person on the train who gives up their seat to another.  These small gifts are like little blessings and I’m reminded that it is all because of Gd.

As I’ve said multiple times here, I’m not a crazy Gd-freak who thinks that everything from the soul restored into my body each morning to landing a job is accredited to Gd.  However, seeing the beauty of the world and the beauty of people reminds me that I’m a simple human being, that my life is not guaranteed and that every day is a blessing.

I’ve been a bit of a slump lately.  I’ve been extremely depressed because of financial insecurity.  Not knowing if my checks would cover my rent, let alone groceries for the week was a real concern for me.  While I’d always assumed that I lived paycheck-to-paycheck before I was literally living this way-with the knowledge that my paychecks wouldn’t do much to crack a dent in my mounting bills.  Baruch Hashem/Alhamdulillah I’ve turned a new leaf and things should start to return back to normal.  I have to remember though that while the last nine months have been incredibly trying, I have so many wonderful things to be grateful for. Through the financial struggles it was hard to be happy with Gd, it was hard to see the blessings around me, it was hard to feel positive.  All the while life was happening around me, I was just too blind and too consumed in my own despair to notice.

I’m grateful for reminders.  On of my friends from college, Brooke Grasso, served as one of those reminders today.  Brooke has been documenting her life as a new mother for the last few years.  I check into her blog occasionally to see pictures of her two adorable boys as a way to keep tabs on her life.  In 2009 she was diagnosed with MS and her post today served as a reminder that we are truly blessed each and every day that we take a breath.  It reminded me that I was letting my situation blind me to the simple beauties in the world.  It reminded me that while things are difficult, our life is a gift that should be lived to the fullest each and every day.

There are 25 days until Pesach and I’ve been going through the Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah from last year putting in pages we omitted in 5771, taking out others that feel different this year.  They too serve as a reminder of the many blessings in the world.  As I’ve been browsing through the words on the page that still ring true for Jews over the generation they not only tell the story of our Exodus from Egypt, but as I read I’ve come to realize why it’s important that we still tell the story-life is a blessing, freedom is not free, and that it’s my job in this life to give my full self each day.

4 Responses to "Remembering the Little Blessings"

I love the modah ani prayer! I often find myself singing it quietly in the shower in the morning.

And I’m delighted that you’re going through the VR haggadah (and making your own choices about what works for you) — that makes me really happy. Thank you for that gift!

I just went on your site to link the Haggadah to my Facebook Pesach invite :) Although I see that there’s a 7.2 addition! We’re sticking to 7.1 at least for this year :)

You are right; it is a lovely blessing and we should really think of what it means when we say it. I have a friend who is terminally ill with cancer and feel blessed that I can go to work every day even if sometimes work sucks.

Exactly. Even when things are terrible and seem bleak, there’s always a blessing tucked away.

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