Today it is gray and the temperature is again 16 degrees F. The snow has been falling steadily since 6:00 PM last night. Driving is a nightmare because the roads are a mess.
The polar vortex, with its record-breaking cold temperatures, and endless snow, is beginning to get everyone down. “I’m so OVER this weather!” “I can’t wait for spring!” These are the common refrains we hear from our friends and family on a daily basis.
One of the people in our office slipped on black ice outside her gym, fell between two parked cars, and hurt her back, knee and ankle. She is definitely not having a good time walking around with a leg brace and crutches on the ice and snow.
And yet, despite the weather, despite the bitter cold and the dryness of the air inside, I have found some incredible beauty outside each and every day.
I am very fortunate that my synagogue sits on lakefront property on the North Shore of Lake Michigan. I also happen to live on the lake as well. Each and every day I feel so incredibly blessed to look out on a stunning view – no matter what the weather – and see something beautiful, new and unique. The water constantly changes colors: from gray, to blue, to green to turquoise. Now, it is white: frozen and covered with snow.
In Jewish tradition, as part of our morning ritual, we recite a series of blessings called “Nisim B’Chol Yom – For Daily Miracles”. We think about the miracle of our own physical being: the fact that we are able to open our eyes, have clothing to wear and have purpose in life. And then we express our gratitude to God. At the same time, these blessings remind us, that life is indeed MIRACULOUS. Wow! I woke up and my body did indeed work as it was intended to work! They remind us that we are all made in God’s image, as free people. These blessings nudge us to celebrate that freedom. These blessings remind us, too, that the earth on which we live is a gift to us from God, and we must nurture it and protect it.
One of these morning blessings thanks God who “stretches the earth over the waters.”
I live out this blessing on a daily basis. I never grow tired of looking out my window at this beautiful view. It definitely is one of my daily miracles, this beautiful work of creation.
In addition to the “Nisim B’Chol Yom – The Daily Miracles” blessings we recite in the morning, there’s a tradition in Judaism of reciting 100 blessings a day. There are blessings to say upon smelling a lemon, or seeing a rainbow, for taking a journey, or for study, among others.
Two of my favorite daily blessings thank God for the “Wonders of Nature”. They go hand-in-hand with reminding us about our daily miracles. The first is recited upon seeing large-scale wonders of nature, such as mountains, hills, deserts, oceans, rivers, lightning and the sky. And the second is recited upon seeing the small-scale wonders of nature, such as beautiful trees, animals and people.
We praise You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe, who makes the works of creation.
We praise You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe, that all things such as these are in Your world.
I think that both of these blessings would be appropriate when we saw the sunrise at Congregation B’nai Torah last week, early one morning:
Or, when we happened to look out the window during our 7th grade class last Wednesday and happened to see this magnificent sunset:
These are just some of the “miracles of the every day”that brighten up my dreary winter days. They make me smile and feel warm inside. They remind me that I am truly blessed to be living in such glorious splendor.
I know that each one of us has our own “miracles of the every day” in our own lives. May they warm your heart and spirit and bring you light on these dark, winter days!