What a morning! It began routinely enough: I awoke to the birds chirping outside my window, my cats and dog greeted me, and then I began a twenty-minute sitting meditation to calm myself before beginning my more mundane tasks of getting kids up and to school. Once my teenage son was on his way to school, and before waking my youngest son, I went for a walk with my dog. The day was exquisite. I began singing a Jewish prayer giving gratitude to the Goddess/God/Spirit of the Universe for returning my soul to me so I could be present and alive in this world.
As I sang and walked, I took in the depth of my gratitude—what an amazing gift to be here. I then began a prayer of gratitude for the workings of my body (“Blessed is Goddess who heals all flesh and does wonders”). In a Jewish Renewal community in the San Francisco Bay Area I learned to expand this prayer of gratitude for my body parts and the amazing miracle of life. Now, every time I say this prayer, I name all the parts of my body, visualize how they work, and give gratitude that they function properly and allow me to experience life the way I do.
From the Mundane to the Sublime
As I walked my dog, I focused first on the amazing gift of sight. When I thought about how my eyes let me take in the beauty and awe of the universe, I was quickly reminded that, without my brain, what my eyes see would elude my experience. And without my consciousness, I could not appreciate any of it.
As I went through this prayer, which seemed so simple in its original Hebrew, it took on a breadth and depth that for me captured the true miracle of life—and my small yet meaningful role in the whole. My compassion for others expanded as I realized that I see and experience the world in a particular way because I have my eyes, brain, and heart, and if I had someone else’s brain (even in combination with my eyes and my heart), I would experience and see the world very differently. This realization allowed me to appreciate how one has no idea how others experience their reality unless one is willing to really be present with and to them.
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