Gratitude


One of the opening prayers of the daily morning service is the “Asher Yatzar”- a prayer which expresses gratitude to God for the blessings of a functioning body. In the prayer we acknowledge the intricacy of openings of “which should they be obstructed in any way, we could not stand before Thee”. We also are grateful for organs and systems which operate without our conscious knowledge- all held together by an Unseen Hand that orchestrates our complicated existance. This prayer of thanks is offered in full awareness that our bodies do not always work in perfect harmony. Gratitude seems counter-intuitive to the one suffering chronic illness and debilitating losses. I am so aware of how much I take for granted, especially after working 12 hours with a young man whose body “holy proof of God’s divine creation” has betrayed him relentlessly, robbing him of the simple pleasures of rubbing his itching eyes, lifting a glass to his thirsty lips, and holding his wife and children in an embrace of life and love. I am compelled to ask “what is the hidden treasure in suffering?”. Is that treasure for the one who suffers, or is it to be mined by those who must- like spectators- be the witnesses, and the ministers of comfort- as pale and inadequate as that might seem.
What does it mean to “enter into the fellowship of suffering”? Is it some ethereal, exalted theological exercise that one can practise as, like a sponge, one absorbs the pain, angst, and raging of those afflicted? My own inadequacy mocks me as I try to understand words coming from a mouth that has forgotten how to speak. My patient is visibly frustrated, and so am I. I want to wave some magic wand, to escape from that vice grip of unanswerable questions. “How long?” “When will this all be over?”
I leave the hospital, able to scratch my head, wash my face, run and leap if I so desire, and speak words of love to my family and to my God.
How wise you are my friend- how terribly wise and gracious to greet the dawn with joy, and to be thankful for the smallest gifts of time. I will continue to feed you, clothe you, and love you for the love of the One whose brokeness continues to make whole. Adonai s’fatai tiftach, ufi yagid t’hilatacha- open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.

One comment

  1. matthew christopher davidson · March 21, 2006

    I think it’s the need for a lost control that motivates people like Rodriguez to end it all.

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