Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.
Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.
Today is day thirty one which is four weeks and three days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve ehad she hem arba’a shavuot ve shlosha yammim laOmer.
Today is Tiferet be Hod, beauty within gratitude, grace within thanksgiving.
Oh, gratitude. In one of my favourite books, a character says
“The Japanese have five different ways to say ‘thank you’—and every one of them translates literally as resentment, in various degrees. Would that English had the same built-in honesty on this point! Instead, English is capable of defining sentiments that the human nervous system is quite incapable of experiencing. ‘Gratitude,’ for example.”
This comes from Stranger in a Strange Land, a dated, misogynistic, homophobic book, which nevertheless in its day, was sufficiently insightful to change people’s lives. The bit about Japanese is highly inaccurate too, I believe (although I don’t know any Japanese, and am simply quoting the interwebs.)
So, there’s a really ugly part to gratitude. Giving something should create gratitude, but sometimes, it seems to do the exact opposite. It creates debt. “He did me a favour so now I have to do him this one.” It can be a put down. “Oh, you poor thing. You have a disability! Of course I’ll help you with this! Whether you want help or not.” It can be a criticism. “Thanks for taking care of the dishes!” “Well SOMEBODY had to!” It can show complete non-understanding of another. “Oh, I got you this lovely porcelain pink cactus statue – I know you’ll love it!” (For clarification, I DO NOT want a porcelain pink cactus statue.) It can display a lack of caring. “Oh, you put three beads onto a string and gave them to me, and you’re 18, not 3? Wow. Um…I don’t know what to say!”
And any of those can lead to resentment rather than gratitude. So, how do I put beauty into gratitude? How do I let the resentment go, how do feel truly grateful for that pink porcelain cactus, those beads on a string, those done dishes? Mostly, I remember God. If I remember that God puts up with my random attempts at worship, my coming late and forgetting to pray and praying while doing housework and all the other ways in which my offerings aren’t as good as they could be, and yet God accepts me and offers nothing but love and gratitude, if I remember that I do my best to be like God and show care, if I remember that there’s a divinity in the gift giver, however small, that prompted the gift in the first place, then I can say a clean, heartfelt thank you despite anything Heinlein has to say on the issue.
Today, I thank people for gifts given. I let go of resentment, and let my gratitude be clean and beautiful.