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Richard J. Bauman

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A Body of Gratitude--(Excerpted from
by Richard J. Bauman   
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Last edited: Monday, October 29, 2012
Posted: Tuesday, December 17, 2002

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Thanking God each day for a mind, limbs and organs that work is easy to do, but most of us seldom do it.

A Body of Gratitude

It is pretty easy for me to remember to be grateful to God for the big things in my life. And it is equally easy for me to overlook His generosity in the most common things.
For instance, I can easily overlook being grateful for the most familiar thing in my life—something I’ve had literally for a lifetime--my body. It is always there, always with me. Is there anything I can take for granted more than my body? I doubt it.
Yet Rabbi Harold Kushner in his book, Who Needs God clearly shows how important it is to acknowledge God’s generosity in giving us wholeness in mind and body.
Kushner writes: “The first five minutes of a Jewish daily morning service contain blessings in which I thank God for the fact that:
My mind works and I know it is morning,
My eyes work,
My arms and legs function,
My spinal column works and I can stand upright,
I have clothes to wear,
I have things to look forward to during the day.
Without these prescribed blessings, it might not occur to me to be grateful for all those things.”
Until I read those words, I don’t think I had ever thanked God for eyes, ears, nose and mouth that work. I certain I never looked over the various parts of my body and expressed thanksgiving to God for feet and toes and knees and hips that operate properly.
The fact I have fingers, wrists, elbows and shoulders that keep functioning day after day, year after year, with virtually no maintenance is, in reality, an awesome miracle. Yet, I have to admit that until I read Kushner’s words, I hardly gave my body a thought unless, of course, it was hurting for some reason.
More typically, I have looked at my face, and overall physique with little delight. I was never especially impressed by what I saw. But today I see me differently. Oh, sure, I still have gray thinning hair, and I’m still battling the bulge of middle-age, yet I appreciate my body, and thank God often for such a remarkable treasure.
It isn’t uncommon, however, to pretty much ignore one’s physical nature until suddenly there is pain because something has gone wrong. For example, I have gout attacks from time to time. They are excruciatingly painful, and when I’m in the throes of an attack I think about my foot, a lot, especially the big toe on that foot.
When my toes or other parts of my body become pain-filled, my attention is riveted on the pain. I waste no time in pleading with God to consider easing the torment.
On the other hand, when I have been gout free—pain free—my toes, my feet, and other joints haven’t been seen as anything special. They have been just a part of me, they have just “been there”.
Since reading Kushner’s words, I can no longer be nonchalant about the gift of my body, a body that works fabulously well, and is pain-free most of the time. “Gratitude does not come naturally to most people,” notes Kushner. “We tend to assume we are entitled to all the good things in life just for being the nice people we are.”
Thanking God first thing everyday for a mind that works and a body that works takes only seconds. For me, it is a way to celebrate God and the wondrous gifts that He has given me for a lifetime. I have a body and a mind that work well—not necessarily painlessly, or perfectly—but precisely as designed—specifically for me

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