Last weekend during Shabbat School, Rav Olivier, Bet Alef's wonderful French-American rabbinic intern, told this story about his favorite prayer (and mine!):
One Shabbat, everyone was in the synagogue waiting for the rabbi to begin the morning service. They waited and waited and waited, and finally decided to go ahead without him. Hours later, at the end of the service, the rabbi appeared. All the people rushed up to him, concerned! What had happened, where had he been?Lately modah ani l'fanecha has become the little song I sing in my mind as I do my work with people, especially during those times when we're quiet together--when I'm checking the pulses, or slipping needles into acupuncture points, or holding the warming moxa over the parts of the body-mind that are sore or sad or stressed.
That morning he'd gotten up and had begun to say the morning prayer as usual: Modeh* ani l'fanecha (I am thankful in Your Presence), melech chai v'kayyam, shehechezarta bi nishmati, b'chemlah. Rabah emunatecha (sublime power of life and eternity, who has restored my soul, with mercy. great is your faithfulness). But as he sang "modeh ani l'fanecha" he fell in so deeply he couldn't go on--only modeh ani l'fanecha -- I am so grateful to be in Your Presence -- over and over for hours.
*girls and women say "modah"