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Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart

April 1, 2020 | KELLY MCLOUGHLIN

‘The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.’

-Henri Nouwen

Happy April Fool’s day everyone!

I volunteered to write the reflection that would be shared on April Fool’s day because I love this day. This day always makes me smile. My Dad LOVED this day. He was always able to play a prank on my siblings and I throughout my childhood. Although, he was the first to admit that I was easy prey as the most gullible of his four children. I am grateful for his gift of humor and the countless memories I have of life with my amazing Dad.

On Saturday night I was watching the Grand Ole Opry show on Facebook live. The performers were Vince Gill and Amy Grant. Side note: my eclectic love of music, which includes country, is another gift from my Dad.

While I was watching the show, I was also trying to figure out what I was going to write about for this reflection. Amy Grant sang the Joni Mitchell song Big Yellow Taxi. When she sang the lines, ‘Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ it clicked in my mind “I know what I am writing the reflection about. Gratitude!”

Have you ever noticed that gratitude often comes in when we are deprived of things we are accustomed to having? Like when a storm knocks out electricity and we grumble “I want my power back on”. Did we ever stop the 364 other days of the year we had power and say, “I am grateful I have power”? Or like now when we are on a stay at home order and might be grumbling “I want to get out of this house. I feel cooped up.” We might be feeling ungrateful that we can’t do the things we normally do in the ways we normally do them.

Prior to starting my current position with the Archdiocese in October 2017, I taught Health Education part-time for twenty years at the local community college where I live. Each semester on the very first day of class I shared a lesson on gratitude. I explained to the students that, for me, the foundation of a healthy life is grounded in gratitude. On the first day I also shared the YouTube video of a short film by Louie Schwartzberg on gratitude. (Video found below) You can view it here (I recommend turning on the captions to capture each word from the narrator).

The film is a powerful demonstration for me on just how much of a gift gratitude can be in our life.

During this uncertain time in our world, and in each of our lives, a certain way to gain a sense of control during the chaos is to practice gratitude.

Here are a few practical tips to implement some extra doses of gratitude into our daily lives during this time:

  1. Gratitude note: Send a handwritten card or letter to a friend or family member telling them you are grateful for them. You could also send gratitude notes to healthcare workers and other essential workers who are sacrificing during this time. You could also write a gratitude note to individuals you minister to and with.
  2. Gratitude journal: Each night write down three things you are grateful for that happened that day.
  3. Say this prayer: God, help me to see that there is always, always, always something to be grateful for.
  4. Be a “Care Bear” for others. Have you ever heard of the cartoon show from the 80’s called “Care Bears”? The cartoon was about the Care Bears who ‘live in a faraway place up in the clouds called Care-a-Lot, which constitutes a part of the Kingdom of Caring. They go all around the world on missions in caring’.

How can we be care bears to others right now and go around on missions of caring?

A short list to get us started:

  • follow the guidelines from the CDC,
  • offer to pick up groceries and other essentials for an older neighbor or family member,
  • SMILE,
  • pray for others,
  • call someone, text someone an uplifting thought or quote,
  • decorate a window in your home with lights, put a teddy bear in your window, the list goes on and on.

Gratitude is best expressed through caring and spreading joy.

Now, I send us all on our missions of caring!