In my memory resides, among a cornucopia of other significant and insignificant information, that there is a Jewish tradition to say 100 blessings every day. Admittedly, that’s a tall order. Still, it’s easy to find many simple things that move one to gratitude.

My story happened on a 90-degree day, when the air conditioning in my house suddenly stopped, the car’s “check engine” light came on, a bout of bronchitis appeared, and an angry editor called and screamed, “Where is your story? We’re going to print, and your article is still not here!”

At that point, I decided I needed a timeout, and told my family that I would pick up dinner instead of doing my usual cooking. As I drove to the supermarket, I murmured a short prayer of thanks, that despite the car’s fickleness, it had safely delivered me to my location without the proverbial bump in the road.

Once inside and safe from the ominous thundering of a looming storm, I plucked a fat, juicy chicken from its heated resting place along with two attractive sides and warm cornbread that seemed to call out my name. I felt a momentary sensation of gratitude, that instead of preparing a homemade meal, I could utilize that time to address some of the issues that had to be mediated.

As the cashier began processing my items, I reached into my purse to retrieve a credit card. Instead, I realized at that moment that my wallet was not there. In a paroxysm of anxiety, I blurted out to the kind young woman who was now bagging my groceries that I had left my money at home. Tears of embarrassment formed in my eyes, and I apologized profusely, offering to return my items to the deli counter.

I began to retrieve the items from the paper bags when a deep voice boomed out behind me, “Please, take everything home and enjoy the dinner. It’s on the house tonight!”

The store owner appeared, seemingly magically, and although I tried to turn down his lovely offer, he would not hear my remonstrations. He picked up a dark chocolate bar near the counter and said, “Here! Take this, too!”

I thanked him from the bottom of my swelling heart. Others in line were apparently happy for my good fortune, and I felt the beauty of the old adage, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” His act of generosity had lifted all of us up at that moment.

Another small miracle greeted me as I pulled into my driveway. The wet and gleaming lawn in front of my house—formerly overcome with weeds and, in sum, a scraggly mess—had just been mowed. My next-door neighbor was putting on the finishing touches, raking the cut grass and restoring order to the wilderness that had greeted me earlier that day. I jumped out of my car excitedly and asked him how much he wanted for his efforts, to which he replied, “Nothing at all. The lawn needed doing.” He waved me off summarily as he returned to his home. A second scoop of good fortune had landed in my lap.

As I walked into my 75-year-old house that is besotted with innumerable issues—tarnished and tattered, cracked walls, torn-up floors, water leaking from the ceiling—I was momentarily filled with happiness for the good day that had been serendipitously bestowed upon our family. At that moment, I recalled the words from Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers: “Who is rich? Those who are happy with what they have.”

I walked over to my desk on which a sheet with scribbled words lay, “Recognize and thank G‑d every day for His help … Every day brings new opportunities to appreciate G‑d’s goodness; express thanks in a timely manner.” I silently mouthed a prayer, content in that minute to simply have a roof—any roof—over our heads. I remembered the words a friend shared with me when we sat by a lake in Greensboro, barred owls flying overhead and white-tailed deer grazing nearby: “Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.”

Life is full of these teaching moments. I will never be able to look at a rotisserie chicken, brussels sprouts, rosemary potatoes, cornbread and a dark chocolate bar without recalling the generosity of a complete stranger, or being thankful for an unruly lawn that might receive the manicured embrace of a neighbor’s kindness. I have learned that the first prayer we are instructed to say when we wake up is, “I give thanks” (Modeh Ani) and the word “Jew” comes from the root of that same word, modeh. It would appear that the concept of gratitude is directly embedded into who we are as a people.

So while I may not have reached my target of saying 100 blessings each day, I am on this journey. I look out my front window and see a bevy of blue jays busily eating the blueberries I left scattered for them. The dogwood tree in front of my house is beginning to show beautiful red berries on the tips of its branches, and a passing neighbor waves and yells out to me, “How are y’all doing? The yard looks great!” The “check engine” light has miraculously disappeared, and my friend from a tiny town in Mississippi is bringing over a Southern dish of red beans and rice that I know was made with a bounteous helping of love.

Practicing gratitude—hakarat hatov—can be inspired by something as humble as a free chicken, but inside that spiritual act is the grounding of kindness and grace that will help us tread the path of an incredibly complex and miraculous world.