I Am A Thanker!
I woke up this morning thinking of Willa Cather and then remembered what my father zt”l would have said:
“The sun was like a great visiting presence that stimulated and took its due from all animal energy. When it flung wide its cloak and stepped down over the edge of the fields at evening, it left behind a spent and exhausted world.” – Willa Cather
I know exactly what she was describing! Oh! I remember how as a child I would wake up and see the sun already shining, and couldn’t wait to spend the day outside playing soccer and swimming, riding my bike and drinking soda pop. The view outside my window filled me with energy that burned through me the entire day, until I would come back upstairs only when it was dark, spent and exhausted.
The problem was that the important things had to wait until I went to Yeshiva with my father to pray. Inevitably, the best mornings were on Mondays and Thursdays when prayers take an extra 15 minutes or so. Even worse; I had to learn with my father for 30 precious minutes that could have been so much better used playing with my friends Benno Tutor and Morry Zelkovich.
My father did not need his probing intelligence to figure out that I was fidgeting. What would happen if the kids had already chosen their teams before I arrived? (Not that anyone ever chose me to be on their team! You will be shocked to learn that I was not a very good ball player.)
“I’ll let you run home right now if you can answer one question,” he offered. I was already suspicious; one question? “OK.”
“I assume that the first thing you said this morning when you woke up was “Modeh Ani. What do the words mean?”
Wow! Such an easy question. “I thank You,” I answered and started to get up to run home and play.
“Nope! It means “I am a Thanker! Did you thank God for such a wonderful morning? Saying ‘Thank You,’ does not make you a Thanker. You have to be a Thanker. Your coming to pray before playing and your learning for a few minutes means that you didn’t simply say ‘Thank You.’ You acted as a Thanker. Now you can go.”
It has been a long time since I woke up with such energy and joy. I’m still working on being a Thanker.
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