Zooming In

Dear Josep,

I was walking home from dropping my kids off at preschool the other day, lost in thought, when I bumped into one of my neighbors. I greeted her, but it turned out she was praying as she walked. We’re not allowed to interrupt prayers with speech; I mean, we’re having a conversation with God, it would be rude to interrupt! She was praying the first section of the Shaḥarit (morning) prayer, known as “Birkot HaShaḥar,” “the morning blessings.” So to make it clear why she was “ignoring” me, she lifted up the pamphlet she was reading from and said the end of the blessing out loud, and I answered “Amen.” (I wrote about blessings and answering “Amen” here.) Then she asked me if I was in a hurry, or if I would like to answer “amen” for all the rest of the blessings. I said I would be delighted to, and she began to read.

Blessed

Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who opens the eyes of the blind.

eyes of the blind

I thought of my visually impaired son who would have been completely blind had he not undergone surgery as a tiny baby. Amen.

Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who clothes the naked.

clothes the naked

She looked down at the clothes she was wearing and smiled. Amen.

Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who releases the bound.

releases the bound

She gave a shake, enjoying the free movement of her body. Amen.

Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who straightens the bent.

straightens the bent

We both stood up a little straighter. Amen.

Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who spreads the earth upon the waters.

spreads the earth

I focused on the sensation of my feet on the ground. Amen.

Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who has provided my every need.

my every need

I thought about the miraculous and healthy functioning of my body. Amen.

Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who firms man’s footsteps.

firms man's footsteps

I felt grateful for my solid shoes. Amen.

Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who girds Israel with strength.

girds israel with strength

I thought about wrapping the waistline of my skirt around my hips that morning. Amen.

Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who crowns Israel with splendor.

crowns Israel with splendor

I recalled the sensation of wrapping my scarf around my hair that morning. Amen.

Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who gives strength to the weary.

strength to the weary

I remembered how tired I had felt when I first woke up that morning, and how strength and energy had settled into my bones. And especially for me, this is no small matter; I have very low energy and tend to be tired and fatigued, and thanks to God and the medication I take, getting out of bed each morning is no longer a colossal task.

Amen.

Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who removes sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eyelids. And may it be Your will, Lord, our God, and the God of our forefathers, that You accustom us to the ways of your Torah and attach us to Your commandments, and do not bring us to the power of error, nor to the power of transgression and sin, nor to the power of challenge, nor to the power of scorn, and may the evil inclination have no control over us. And distance us from an evil person and an evil companion. And attach us to the Good Inclination and to good deeds, and compel our nature to be subservient to You. And grant us today and every day grace, and kindness, and mercy in Your eyes, and in the eyes of all who see us, and bestow kindness upon us. Blessed are You, Lord, Who bestows kindness upon His nation, Israel.

Amen, amen, amen.

We say these words every morning. Most of the time I mumble through them, troubled by other thoughts, unable to focus and really experience the profound awareness and gratitude they are meant to bring me. I was so grateful to my neighbor for letting me take part in her prayers that morning. Thanks to her, time slowed down and I was able to really zoom in and focus on each of these simple, everyday miracles that we usually ignore. It flooded me with a sense of blessing and gratitude.

A blessed day to you.

Love,

Daniella

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