I’m happy to be here tonight. Perhaps most of you don’t know that I was on a charity bike ride this past May. Riding around Jerusalem we went up a short steep hill to see a brand-new 9/11 memorial. The memorial was very impressive. Looking at it one way it looks like a flame; looking at it another way it looks like and unfurled American flag. The base of this monument was made out of materials taken from the twin towers. On a wall behind it listed all the names of the people were murdered on the day. It’s the only place outside New York that lists the names like that.
Going down the hill I was going very fast and was afraid of bumping into somebody so I moved towards the left, hit some gravel, and lost control of my bike. Because of this accident I spent four weeks in the hospital, six weeks at Mount Sinai’s acute rehab for spinal injuries, and another four weeks in a regular rehab. So let me say I’m really happy to be here tonight.
In the hospital I had to make a major decision. I could focus on all my problems. I looked terrible. I was in great pain. I was so debilitated, I couldn’t even push the call button to summon a nurse. Or I could count my blessings. I quickly realized by dwelling on all the negatives would not help me move forward. I would be stuck in time, unhappy, and never make any real progress. By counting my blessings, I would be able to overcome most if not all my obstacles and develop a gratitude attitude
These are some of the blessings I enumerated.
The fall didn’t happen that far from Hadassah Hospital. I had the best spinal surgeon at Hadassah operate on me. The fall could have damaged my spine even worse. I could have become a Quadra paraplegic. In fact all my doctors both in Israel and America have been great.
My family and friends have to be one of the biggest blessings in my life. Without the love, help, and support I would not be able to stand before you today.
I have had great therapists. When I first came to America I can sit up by myself let alone stand and walk. Because of my therapist I can now walk with and without a cane.
I am blessed because of my interfaith community. Synagogues and churches have been praying for my recovery. I literally felt the love and support of my community. Let me tell you prayers to work.
I am not unique. We all have experienced problems throughout our lives. God never promised us a rose garden. For some of us it has been a death of a loved one, for others it has been a health problem, and for still others it has been a divorce or loss of employment.
I don’t minimize the pain and hardship you felt going through these crises. I once read about a woman who suffered one terrible blow after another and she told her friend I know God doesn’t send us any more burdens than we can bear. But I just wish God didn’t have such a high opinion of me.
I’m convinced though if you look back upon your life taking the long view, for most of us you too can count more blessings than the difficulties. That’s the challenge that I challenge of Thanksgiving. Count your blessings one by one & I am sure you will discover that the blessings outnumber the difficulties in your life. David Steindl-Rast observed, “You can’t be grateful for everything but in every given moment you can find something to be grateful for”. Your gratitude could be for things as simple as the air you breathe, the love you feel in your heart, or seeing the change of seasons.
Let me add though, counting your blessings is just the first step. Once we become grateful for all God’s blessings, Thanksgiving obliges us to share this bounty with all who are in need. When we help others every day can be a thanks giving day.