What if we were having coffee and I looked across the table and said to you, “What are you missing?” Your first instinct might be to panic and think that you’ve misplaced your cell phone. Or, you may think that this is some new, trendy joke, and you haven’t seen enough memes on Facebook, which is resulting in the false dilemma that somehow you aren’t “in the know.” What I would propose is that what you are missing, or may have temporarily misplaced is your “garment of praise.” I know that I certainly do from time to time, and the result is needless stress and being a self-piteous sour puss.
What is a “garment of praise,” and where can I get one? As is so often the case with the Hebrew language, the concept is,( and please forgive the pun), “layered.” The word for “garment” is pretty straight forward. It just is a “wrap or mantle.” Ahhh, but the word for “praise” is a veritable feast. It is tehillah, and don’t get mad at me that it rhymes with “tequila.” I didn’t come up with this stuff! The first layer is that it means “to shine.”
Do you know any “shiny” people? I can think of some, and they are not bliss ninnies, choosing to exude an artificial joy. To the man or woman, they have had great sorrow in their lives, and by the grace of God they have chosen to exchange their “spirit of heaviness” for the “garment of praise.” These are the people that have discovered a great secret, which is, no matter what horrible or exhausting thing is going on, somewhere in all the poo there is a real live pony, and they won’t stop until they find it, train it, and ride it! And, their joy is so inarguably genuine while doing so that they don’t set your teeth on edge.
Halal, the word from which tehillah is derived, also means “to flash forth light.” I think of a lighthouse, something whose sole purpose is to illuminate the rocks that want to destroy your ship, and to bring you home safely. People who have chosen to wear the garment of praise are not only “shiny,” they are safe people to be around. They’ve got your back, and they’ve got your front. Are you one of them?
The rest of the “word layers” have to do with music, being a boaster, (obviously not about yourself), and for those of you who might just have too much starch in your collar, “to be a fool,” or, my personal favorite, “to act like a mad man.” Notice that we never have any problem at all acting like fools or mad men at the Iron Bowl, but the idea of getting that way over all the blessings of life, the privilege of being free, and lavishing our Maker with unabashed, deeply grateful love for being undeservedly forgiven somehow seems beneath us. What are we missing? In this season of renewal, where we celebrate the passing over of the death angel and the triumph of the Resurrection, my assertion is that you need to toss back enough tehillah to make you shine, and wrap yourself up in a garment that will never go out of style.