Having just shared in our holiday of Thanksgiving last weekend and as we enjoy this most spectacular season of autumn, with the colours and sights and tastes of harvest, I am brimming with gratitude. I hope that while this year may have been a different kind of Thanksgiving than you were used to, you also were able to enjoy it.
When we were sitting at our Thanksgiving table last Saturday, we went around the table as we always do, to name something for which we are thankful. My youngest son, Jack, who is 15, didn’t need any time to think. He said with conviction, “I am so thankful for school!”
Honestly, in my wildest dreams, I never thought I would ever hear any of my kids say these words in earnest, without being prompted. But he was very serious. He followed it up by saying that he was so happy to be there, in class again, and not have to attend school on line like last spring. Despite the masks, despite the limitations and only one class per week, despite not being able to play his favourite sport this year, he was very thankful.
Perspective is everything when it comes to enjoying our lives, adapting to changes, and finding meaning, and I believe that there is nothing like gratitude to create that perspective. I would go so far as to say that it is in fact the most important concept/ emotion/ disposition that we can have in this life. Out of gratitude flows everything else—love, generosity, kindness, hope, perseverance. Gratitude changes everything. When we think we have it bad or life is getting us down, all we have to do is reflect for a moment on something we have been given, something we get to be a part of, the gifts we get to bring to others, and we are suddenly changed. It is the most powerful emotion. Appreciation is one of the first emotions we are taught….through love given and love received, we feel it. We are taught to say thank you, right from day one. “Count your blessings” as the old song goes…
To be taught to have a grateful heart is truly the greatest gift we will ever be given and to show someone else how to be grateful by example is the greatest gift we will ever give. Working at Hospice, we see on a daily basis how challenging and heart-breaking life can be. And yet, within these walls, there is a beauty beyond the pain of life and death and sadness. It is gratitude. Gratitude for family, for friends, for a cup of tea and a homemade cookie, a bowl of soup, a listening ear and an understanding, soothing voice, warm quilts, stories shared, beautiful music, our dog Daisy, fun moments, laughter and tears simultaneously flowing, for the love people have had in their lives and the memories forever treasured. I am so grateful to work in this place. So grateful for the families, volunteers, staff, caregivers, meaning-makers in this place. When we look at our world, the ways people are suffering– war torn realities, poverty, fear– to raise our voices and reach out our hands to help, to bring love and justice and to make a difference in gratitude for all we have…this is what it is all about. Gratitude at work.
May your song, today, be of gratitude.
Take care of yourself and each other,
Lori, Spiritual Care CooridnatorBack to Hospice Spirit