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Omer 47

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 forty seven, which is six weeks and five days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim v’sheva she hem shisha shavuot ve hamisha yamim laOmer.

Today is Hod be Malkhut, gratitude within majesty, acceptance within presence

Today, I am grateful for the kings and queens – the leaders of our world. I don’t mean polititians – I mean the successful people who are good at something and who just get things done, the ones that plan properly and act when the time is right. You know those people, right? The one who was in the giften program, the arts-based program and the athletics program all at the same time, and volunteered, took care of an ill family member, had an active social life and STILL was a genuinely nice human being? The one who finished the dissertation early, while regularly participating in marathons, the CN tower climb and Habitat for Humanity? The one who successfully manages the four small children and the job and still holds weekly dinner parties? You know that person! They are our leaders. And I am grateful for them.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t always like them! They are annoying. First, they tell me what to do, and often – how to do it. Sure, they’re often right but that doesn’t make it less annoying – if anything more! Then they notice and correct my mistakes. Even if they’re nice enough to say nothing, they still show me up just by existing. I’m doing the best I can, true, but their best is better. Also, they have that look – that half pity, half amazement that someone so slow could exist, half irritation at having to deal with it, half self-righteous satisfaction that they’re right and I’m wrong. (I am well aware there are a few too many halfs. Now you’re nagging me about grammar too?)

But I am still grateful for them. They step up. They make dreams into a reality and they make the reality a better one. They encourage and support me and goad me to higher achievement, greater excellence and more long-term satisfaction. They make a difference and ensure I have or at least have access to the things I need – and the things I desire. So, annoying as they are, I am grateful.

Today, I am grateful for the leaders in this world. I strive to be more like them so that someday, someone else can list me in the category of annoying but inspirational and useful.

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Omer 40

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 forty, which is five weeks and five days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim she hem hamisha shavuot ve hamisha yamim laOmer.

Today is Hod be Yesod, gratitude within foundation, humility within intimacy.

Today, I am grateful for love. It transforms everything. Really, it is shining bright rainbow colours added to an otherwise bland palette. And the thing about love is that there is no way whatsoever that I can do it by myself. By its nature, Yesod – whether defined as sexuality or intimacy or connection – requires two. So, I have someone else who needs to play in order for Yesod to be successful, someone who I may as well be grateful to. In its meaning of foundation, Yesod confirms that basically, love underlies everything. And today is an excellent day to express gratitude about that foundation, to test it, to see that it remains firm and to enjoy a life built on love.

Today, I am grateful for love. I express that gratitude to those who love me.

Omer 35

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 five, which is five weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve hamesh she hem hamisha shavuot laOmer.

Today is Malkhut be Hod, nobility within gratitude, majesty within humility

A humble king – one of the oddest but in some ways, most beautiful images and an excellent description of the Jewish “chosen people” concept sometimes. Yes, one can be special and humble. One can remember that majesty doesn’t have to mean robes or crowns, jewels or cups, or anything else of that ilk. It can mean service and responsibility, a need to bring light unto the people, and a desire to represent others rightly, to ensure that one sets the best example. It can be a life of giving and caring for others, quietly and serenely lived. To achieve that humble nobility, we begin with gratitude. We express gratitude for the world we’ve been given and the mantle we’ve been asked to wear. Then, we go on to do the next necessary task.

Today, we are quietly, gratefully, humbly doing our best to be holy.

Omer 34

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 four, which is four weeks and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve arba she hem arba’a shavuot ve shisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Yesod be Hod, intimacy within gratitude, community within thankfulness

Today we remember the friend. You know, the one who has been faithful for years. Maybe he’s awkward and socially inept and sometimes you laugh at him in your head. Maybe she’s loud and pushy and time consuming and exhausting and you half dread the time she’ll be coming over. But he was there when you celebrated your birthday for the last umpteen years and she held you the last time you cried bitterly because life was unfair. They haven’t commented (at least not too obnoxiously) about how awkward, socially inept, loud, pushy and time consuming you are. And probably, they could have. But they didn’t. So it’s time you (or maybe, I) express some gratitude for that loyal friend that you dismiss. They’ve made your life more wonderful and they’re part of what makes you, you.

Today, I express gratitude for friends who remain faithful despite my occasional disdain or neglect.

Omer 33 – Lag BaOmer

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 three, which is four weeks and five days of the Omer. Today is Lag BaOmer! Hayom yom shloshim ve shalosh she hem arba’a shavuot ve hamisha yammim laOmer. Hayom Lag BaOmer!

Today is Hod be Hod, gratitude within gratitude, thankfulness within thankfulness

Today I express gratitude for spring. I notice the flowers and the veggies and the birds that are everywhere. I even notice the pesky bunnies and squirrels who eat the flowers and veggies. I express gratitude for stories. Today, we talk about a story where people pretended to go on a picnic, just so they could go to school. I have to tell my students that there were people out there who skipped picnics for school, rather than the other way around. Today, I celebrate my family. It is Mother’s Day, and I have a wonderful mom who I will go out with later on in the day. I express gratitude for my parents and especially my cool, interesting, and loving mother. She has always been my support, my inspiration, and my friend.

Today, I am also grateful for memories of a parent that I lost. One year and ten days ago, I lost Peg Lilliman, a woman who was a second mother to me in my life. Although she was connected to no one in our family by blood, the connections we made through love and caring are ones that sustained me and supported me for many years. While I cannot be grateful for her loss (I miss her,) today, and every Mother’s Day, I remember Peg Lilliman and I will remember her with gratitude for the incredible life she lived and love she gave.

Today, we are grateful for the world we live in, for birth and life cycles, for special memories and for the mothers who make it all possible.

Omer 32

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 two, which is four weeks and four days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve shtayim she hem arba’a shavuot ve arba’a yammim laOmer.

Today is Netzakh be Hod, power within gratitude, victory within humility

When I express gratitude, I access power. I talked about this in the Netzakh week, but it bears saying again. And to be grateful, to access this power, I need to know where I am. I need to know that I am not superior to another person, and so I don’t have the right to sneer at their gifts. They might have difficulty in an area or two, but they might be fantastic in others. I need to know that I am not inferior to another person either, and so don’t have the right to expect their gifts. They have their own challenges and frustrations. When I know where I am – on par with others, but with my own strengths and challenges, then I have the power to be grateful, and to appreciate others and to grow. That can be a true victory.

Today, I accept where I am in the world and I’m grateful for gifts given to me.

Omer 31

 

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.

Omer 30

 

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, which is four weeks and two days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim she hem arbaa shavuot ve shtei yammim laOmer

Today is Gevura be Hod, strength within gratitude, might within humility.

Today, I am grateful for smiles and forget-me-nots, for unexpected cake and presents, for success in meeting goals and communication. Today, I access the strength that is mine, when I simply feel grateful for the many small, insignificant aspects of my day that usually, I don’t even think about. As I appreciate the many little gifts of the day, I see the world as beautiful and my own place in it as a good one. I see each person in my life differently too. Because the people in our lives – well, you know what they’re like! Loud, demanding, selfish and uncaring or silent, unhelpful, self-centered and uncaring, all of them! There’s not a single one who just acts the way I want them to act all the time. But with a small-items gratitude list, they’re better people – I remember that that selfish and uncaring person may the one who did the dishes, invited me for a walk, gave me ride, or made me dinner. Of course, having nicer people in my life makes me stronger. So, I can use gratitude – to strengthen relationships and improve attitude, to give myself might but only when I acknowledge that our imperfections make us who we are.

Today, we are stronger both as individuals and in relationship when we are grateful for the little things around us.

Omer 29

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 twenty nine, which is four weeks and one day of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim v’teysha she hem arbaa shavuot ve yom ehad laOmer

Today is Khesed be Hod, kindness within gratitude, compassion within acceptance.

Today, this day, today is the day I stop complaining. And let me tell you, it isn’t easy. Complaining is a basic Jewish character trait! It’s our God-given right and how we get through every day. But aside from the fact that complaining is fun sometimes, it isn’t pretty. It can ruin other people’s moods, it can turn a really positive event into a negative one, and it can really hurt someone. One thinks of Dudley Dursley from Harry Potter saying “Thirty six gifts??? But last year it was 37!” This was not a kind response to his parents. If I take the time to remember that everyone around me does so much for me, so many little things that make me happy – then I can start being kind to other people, by being grateful instead of whining about the 37th gift.

Today, I express gratitude to other people for all they do for me. That’s kinder than complaining.

Omer 26

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 twenty-six which is three weeks and five days of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve shesh she hem shlosha shavuot ve hamisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Hod be Netzakh, gratitude within power, thankfulness within capability.

Today, I remember where my powers come from. I am not smart because of any special thing I did, and I am not beautiful and I am not even all that kind because of what I did. I am smart and beautiful and sometimes kind because those are the gifts that God gave me. I try hard to make the best use of these gifts – to use my intelligence well and support it by learning new things, to look my best and take care of myself, to help others as much as I can and to study Torah, which helps me be nicer yet. Sometimes, I think “woo-hoo! I’m fantastic! Look what I have achieved! I have power! I am magic and …” And then I remember (usually, when God has me fall flat on my face as a reminder) that actually, all my gifts are God-given and I don’t control the universe.

Today, I express gratitude for all the gifts that God has given me and try to use my powers for good.