The gift of gratitude

Making our thanks heard

By Alvin Sugarman

A couple of days ago, Americans celebrated our annual day of Thanksgiving. If we were fortunate enough, we celebrated this holiday with a festive meal alongside family, and perhaps even some friends.

Many of us offered prayers of thanksgiving to the One we deem to be our Creator. These prayers are appropriate, but we must not forget those who are less fortunate than ourselves. By this, I mean that our prayers to God are much more likely to be heard and appreciated if they are not simply hollow words of gratitude.

Our prayers are words linked to a pledge to ourselves and Him, to do whatever we can to help and touch the lives of those in need.

As wonderful as it may be to set aside one day a year for giving thanks, wouldn’t it be all the more wonderful to take some time every day of our life to take stock of our blessings?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to show that gratitude to God by giving back, whenever possible, some of our time by providing whatever resources we may possess to those in need?

Until the heart has been touched by gratitude, not one of us, I believe, is fully alive. And unless that gratitude becomes a meaningful act of giving back, our gratitude becomes nothing more than meaningless words.

I am but one human who has been blessed with 75 years of life. How many more years, months or days are left for me and you? I do not and cannot know the answer.

I do know that I can take some time every day to become more aware of the blessings that permeate my presence here on earth.

What are these blessings? I offer them to you as but a fraction of the multitude that enrich my life. I hope you may find some that resonate with you.

I am blessed by …

• My ability to love and be loved.

• The incredible feeling of joy that I have in simply holding my beloved wife’s hand.

• The unbounded thrill and happiness of being a parent, made all the more wonderful by watching my children become parents.

• The ever-increasing ecstasy of seeing grandchildren enter the world and grow and mature.

• The deep bonds of love that can grow within an extended family.

• By The human capacity to think and create.

• By The simple, yet profound, gift of laughter.

• A blue sky with cloud formations that would make any artist weep with envy.

• My country, with all its difficulties, still striving to be a model for democracy.

• The unfolding possibility that resides in every moment of our existence.

• The promise of peace that the final breath of life holds.

For all these and so much more, I rejoice and give thanks for the gift of my life.

Rabbi Alvin Sugarman is rabbi emeritus at The Temple in Atlanta. He writes for the Higher Ground blog at highergroundgroup.org.

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