When David was so sick, this was the prayer that made me leave the sanctuary in tears. Hashkivenu l’shalom- Holy God-lay us down in peace; v’Ha-a-mee-denu l’chayim- stand us up in the morning, alive. The simplest blessing that we simply take for granted. The most profound blessing. The only prayer we really need, for, without life?, what else is there? Every other blessing recedes into the distance.
In the traditional keriyat Shema al ha-mita, the saying of the Shema in bed before sleep, we offer these words:
Ribbono shel olam, I hereby forgive anyone who angered or antagonized me or who sinned against me – whether against my body, my property, my honor or against anything of mine; whether this person did so accidentally, willfully, carelessly, or purposely; whether through speech, deed, thought, or notion; whether in this lifetime or another lifetime – I forgive every child of God. May no person be punished because of me. May it be your will, Eternal One, my God and the God of my ancestors, that I sin no more. Whatever sins I have done before You, may You blot out in Your abundant mercies, but not through suffering or bad illnesses. (NOT THROUGH SUFFERING OR BAD ILLNESSES) May the expressions of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before you, Eternal One, my Rock and my Redeemer.
We humbly acknowledge the reality that time is promised to no one and we pray for the strength to forgive. May we lie down in peace, with a sense of wholeness and completeness that comes from knowing that we’ve done, each day, what needs to be done, and that we’ve said, each day, what needs to be said. May we awaken to say the words- Modeh ani, I am so grateful to have my soul returned to my body each morning- an act of compassionate grace, never to be taken for granted.