July 07, 2017
Welcome, everyone! Happy Thanksgiving in July.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow...." - Melody Beattie
Gratitude is a choice and it can change the way we see, experience and accept anyone or anything. So...why wouldn't we choose to be grateful? What keeps us from being grateful? Is it self-pity, anger, resentment, regret, unforgiveness?
Gratitude is a topic that touches hearts and unites the community. In several of our small groups last Friday, our patients didn't want to stop telling each other what they appreciated in each other and who they were grateful for, and we all loved it. We had each of the patients write gratitude lists.
Here is a list from one of our patients:
Thank you for...
"My health, friends, this treatment, family, my dog, my grandmother, my future, my sponsor, still being alive, 7:00 am AA meeting, my girlfriend's respect, my education, my faith, Friday, my recovery, my community, the respect I have for life, another chance."
I am so moved when I read our weekly "Prayer List.” The "List" gives the patients an opportunity to request prayers for loved ones or fellow community members. I wanted to share this request from one of our patients – so beautifully and humbly offered:
"I would like to help offer prayers to those whose voices go unheard, to those condemned for their choices, to those who feel abandoned and to all those who are often forgotten, those suffering, homeless hurt, afraid. Please keep in mind the families of all here at Renaissance, Caron staff, clinical team, all those I love."
Reading these words from patients makes me feel grateful. Our patients may be sick...but they are also beautiful spiritual beings...as spiritual leaders we are humbly reminded of this weekly.
I shared the following story, one of my very favorites on gratitude:
One Saturday afternoon after our excursion to Pizza Hut, the mall and a movie, I drove my ten-year-old goddaughter Samantha to her family's new residence. As we turned off the highway onto a dirt road that led to her house my heart dropped to see that she and her parents were living in an old school bus in a field.
As Samantha showed me around her family's quarters, I began to feel sad that this little girl whom I loved so much was growing up in such a shoddy environment. As my eyes painfully fell upon rusted seams on the metal walls, cracked windows, a leaking roof, I realized that her family had fallen on hard times. I wanted to rescue her from such a barren plight.
Looking up at me with her big brown eyes, Samantha asked me, "Would you like to see my room?" "Okay", I answered hesitantly.
The child took me by the hand and guided me up a makeshift staircase that led to a small wooden addition that had been superimposed over the roof of the bus. I shuddered to observe that her room was in the same condition as the rest of the place, just barely livable. Looking around, I noticed one fairly attractive element of her abode, a colorful tapestry hanging over the one section of the room that would be called a wall.
"How do you feel living here?” I asked, waiting for a response.
Instead to my surprise, her face lit up. "I love my wall!!" she giggled.
I was stunned. Samantha was not kidding. She actually enjoyed the place because of this colorful wall. The child found a touch of heaven in the midst of hell, and this is what she chose to focus on. She was happy. This ten-year-old saw her life through the eyes of appreciation and that made all the difference. I began to consider all the things in my life that I have complained about. I realized that in my preoccupation with what isn't there, I have been missing what is there. While focusing on rusty metal, I have overlooked some colorful tapestries.
Gratitude is not the result of things that happen to us; it is an attitude we cultivate by practice. The more we are thankful for, the more we will find to be thankful for. ~Alan Cohen "Gratitude A Way Of Life"
Want advice on how to seize the morning and begin the day with an attitude of gratitude? Please watch the video below.
The patients are beginning to understand this as they practice being grateful...focusing on what they still have instead of what they have lost or left behind.
Gratitude opens the heart to joy.
Thank you for the loss that deepens me.
Thank you for the sorrow that humbles me.
Thank you for the pain that tempers me,
the work that strengthens me, the
disappointments that help me to surrender.
Thank you for the changing fortunes of life
that teach compassion, perseverance,
patience, courage and so much more.
We with give thanks for all that comes our
way, even if it causes us to weep, or
we remain small, petty and complaining.
Thank you friends.