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Thought for the Day: One Day, One Step, One Breathe at a Time

I participated in the American Lung Association's "Fight for Air Climb" yesterday.  It is always inspiring to participate in these publicity/fund raising events for important issues.  As I have mentioned, breathing issues are very personal to me; having spent time in an oxygen tent myself as a child and now seeing one of my grandsons suffer with similar problems.  On the staircase I also met a woman who son had died just a few years ago from asthma.  So we are all climbing for a purpose.  I also got an unexpected inspiration from my climbing partner.

She has done this and other events hosted by various breathing organizations for years.  One year she volunteered as a "cheer leader" (standing at various floors urging the climbers on -- "you're doing great!  keep it up!") and saw many, many climbers from one team: Kari's Klimbers.  She finally asked someone who this Kari was.  It was the team captain, Steve; and he answered, "I have Kari's lungs."

You can find the whole story and more on his web site, Kari's Gift; but here's the a synopsis.  Kari was a 17 year old high school student and athlete.  She died suddenly from a burst aneurysm.  Kari had indicated on here driver's license that she wanted to be an organ donor.  Steve had been suffering form cystic fibrosis for years and was down to less that 10% lung functionality.  Steve got Kari's lungs.  Steve can now climb all 94 floors -- 1,632 steps -- to the top of the John Hancock Center.  You can imagine how much Steve appreciates each and every breath of air; after all, his lungs were a gift out of the blue.

Our lungs, of course, are also a gift.  We forget to be appreciative, as the Chovos Levavos notes, because we grew up with lungs and have come to take breathing for granted.  As I was preparing to write this, I did a search to what I had written about the importance of being appreciative for the "smallest" things -- even the ability to breathe.  I was stunned... it was twice when I first started writing this blog.  The first was almost 10 years ago while watching my mother die and seeing her struggle for each breath; I titled it: One breath at a time...  The next time was about two weeks later as I was processing my mother's death and preparing myself for the approaching Passover holiday; I titled that one: Dayeinu -- It Would Have Been Enough for Us.

Each and every moment of our lives is an undeserved gift.  Each and every moment is given to us as just one expression of the infinite love with which the Infinite One love us requires constant work.  Which is why the preparation for our daily prayers culminates with that thought.  "kol ha'n'shama t'hallel kah; hallelu'kah"/"Every living thing will praise G-d; Hallelu'ka".  And as theour Sages have elucidated: "al tikra neshama, ele n'shima: b'chol n'shima u'n'shima t'hallel kah" -- "Don't read neshama, rather n'shima (breath); with /for every single breath you should praise G-d."

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