When Rudyard Kipling’s popularity was at its height, the story goes, he used to receive 10 shillings a word for his stories. Two students at Oxford mischievously sent him a letter enclosing 10 shillings, explaining that they had heard of his rate per word, and asking Kipling to send them one of his best.
Kipling wrote back, “Thanks.”
The first words tradition asks us to say in the morning are words of gratitude — modeh ani. We should be grateful for the privilege of each new day that we are able to experience the variety and wonder of this life. If we have eaten, we should be grateful. If we can see the sky, or hear the birds, or greet a friend, we should be grateful. There have always been things wrong in people’s lives, and there is much that needs changing. But to wish for what might be is not to slight the blessing of what is. Modeh ani, how grateful I am for the sacrifices of those before me, the goodness of those around me and the God who makes possible the astounding richness of our world.