The eighteenth of 19 brief meditations on the 19 blessings of the Amidah.
We give thanks to you that you are the Eternal our God and the God of our ancestors forever and ever. Through every generation you have been the rock of our lives, the shield of our salvation. We will give you thanks and declare your praise for our lives that are committed into your hands, for our souls that are entrusted to you, for your miracles that are daily with us, and for your wonders and your benefits that are with us at all times, evening, morning and noon. Beneficent one, your mercies never fail; merciful one, your lovingkindnesses never cease. We have always put our hope in you. For all these acts may your name be blessed and exalted continually, our Sovereign, forever and ever. Let every living thing give thanks to you and praise your name in truth, God, our salvation and our help. Selah. Blessed are you, Eternal, whose Name is the Beneficent One, and to whom it is fitting to give thanks.
Every word of this blessing is devoted to thanksgiving, to being cognizant that we all are part of something greater, at all times, not when the spirit moves us or we have an amazing experience or personal revelation but now, when now is always, and all times.
If we were angels, I suppose we'd be saying a blessing like this all the time. But we're not. We have to live life, after all. And that means making a mess and cleaning it up. It means losing our temper and making up. It means screwing up at work and seeking to do better next time. But this blessing--especially in its employment of the term "Selah" which means rock or boulder or clod of earth--is meant to be a symbol of eternity, of timeless support, of the endless regeneration of an idea few of us can live and practice and consistency: perspective.
Perspective of thanksgiving. Being grateful. Living a life of gratitude, three times a day, means periodically pausing to shift our glance "heavenward" and be reminded of what truly matters.
Some people are naturally appreciative. I am always amazed by people like that. Others need to be reminded, to learn the discipline of thanks and appreciation. Like anything--exercise, work, love--it takes practice.
It takes practice to be mindful of how good life can actually be, to be aware of "your wonders and your benefits that are with us at all times, evening, morning and noon."
Fitting that here with this blessing, we bow twice. Once at the beginning of the blessing and once at the end, engaging our bodies in the act of thanksgiving, as a physical reminder that true gratitude is expressed by engaging the world with bodies, our hearts and souls.
The first bow occurs at "we give thanks." And the second bow occurs with the words "Whose Name is the Beneficent One."