This week's Totally Optional Prompt is, appropriately enough, Thanksgiving. The poem I wrote in response to the prompt riffs off of this one-line blessing for gratitude, which observant Jews say daily. That every day is a day for giving thanks is one of the things I appreciate most about my religious tradition. Gratitude isn't just a feeling; it's a practice.
One of my teachers, Rabbi Jeff Roth, teaches that on days when we're able to access feelings of gratitude, we should hold those in our hearts and minds as we pray the modah ani. And on days when we can't access those feelings, for whatever reason, then we should pray for those feelings to return, so that we can once again say this prayer with mindful intent.
While I'm at it: happy Thanksgiving to all! I have so much to be thankful for today, including all of you.
Is meant to arise automatically
as the clock-radio severs
whatever held me to dreaming.
It's mandatory even on tough days,
regardless of what I know
(or imagine I know) is coming.
The rabbis teach that
each night we lend You our souls
for purposes I can't begin to imagine.
Do You harness them in tandem?
Do they cluster in Your kitchen
trading recipes with the angels?
Your enduring trust in us
isn't patched and worn at the seams
like the faithfulness we know
but abundant and whole
every single time we wake
and wipe slumber from our eyelids.