We see some amazing sunsets in this part of Texas. Earlier this week I saw one that took my breath away. It was the reddest and brightest sunset I’ve ever seen. I just had to stand there in awe and gratitude for a few moments and savor it.
Jews have a tradition of offering a brief prayer of thanks to God (berakhah) whenever they have a new experience. I appreciate the tradition and try to practice it daily at every point when I experience the hand of God at work in the world around me. So, on the occasion of seeing the amazing sunset, I said, “Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Sovereign of the Universe and Creator of all things, for showing me your handiwork.”
The function of a berakhah is to acknowledge God as the source of all blessing. These short prayers also serve to transform a variety of everyday actions and occurrences into religious experiences that increase awareness of God at all times. For this purpose, ancient rabbis taught that it was the duty of every Jew to recite one hundred berakhot every day.
I wonder what would happen if every believer from every faith tradition were to adopt this practice. Greater awareness of the One who created all things might make us better neighbors, better stewards, better parents, and better sons and daughters. Offering a blessing to God for the abundance of blessings from God could, over time, transform us into more generous people. Acknowledging the majesty and wonder of our Creator would humble us and change us into more grateful creatures.
Let’s try it for a few days and see what happens!
The Very Reverend Ron Pogue
St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church