Several days ago I met a colleague whom I hadn't seen for a good number of years. Catching up with one another I commented on my current engagement in the exploration of gratefulness as a central practice in Jewish spiritual living. He quipped:
"When anyone asks me how I am , I answer-"I am aging gratefully!"Obviously it was a pun on the popular expression of “Growing old gracefully.”
He added: “ I am using the Sephardic pronunciation!”(In Ashkenazic Hebrew-Hebrew spoken by European Jews, the “S” sound is pronounced as an “S” while in Sephardic Hebrew, that spoken in modern Israel and by those of Middle Eastern extraction, the “S” sound is pronounced as a “T.”
In thinking about our exchange it occurred to me that in fact the notion of growing old gracefully is very much connected to the ability to live one’s life gratefully. The origin of both words, grace and gratitude, is gratis, that is, free and pleasing. When one understands life as a free gift and views it as pleasing and a source of favor, it becomes natural to relate to one’s later years with a thoughtfulness and generosity that reflects a positive and pleasant manner toward all things of life. Being graceful, living joyfully and openly , flows from the perspective of grateful awareness of the blessings inherent in the totality of life.
On this Mother’s Day, as we gratefully celebrate the gift of life given to us by our mothers, we wish our mothers the ability to grow older gracefully and gratefully, grateful for us as their offspring.