“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
|~ John F. Kennedy|
It hardly seems possible that another year is ending on planet earth and the holidays are in our midst. Around this time in years past, almost on cue, I would find myself thrust into the holiday chaos with endless to do lists, shopping, cooking, more shopping and perhaps an occasional pause to catch my breath.
This year is different. Reflection on the past year has brought more than a pause as I find that withdrawing myself from the holiday madness, seems to be what my heart is truly seeking at this moment in time. Reflecting on the events of the past year, most notably, the passing of my dear dad, my friend, and inspiration, has irreversibly changed how I view everything. The author CS Lewis uses the analogy to describe grief following a loved ones’ passing as similar to an amputation. “Whereas, you will eventually learn to live without it, your life will never be the same.”
Grief has a way of being extraordinarily disruptive, disorienting and blinding. It blinds you to the everyday joys that are still in your midst yet, without fail, you see only darkness, muddling your way through the fog day after day. The major holidays and birthdays pass, bringing with them a sting that reopens the wound that is now your heart.
Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one understands how it rocks you to the core and changes the fabric of everything in your life. I am sorry if you can relate to what I am referring to, for that means that you too, have lost someone very dear to you, and to the extent that you grieve, you have also loved. We can take heart in the fact that ‘rock bottom’ is a solid foundation.
At this time of the year our focus turns to Gratitude. For those who have suffered a loss of any kind, or are in a challenging phase of their life, feeling thankful is often very difficult . Difficult but necessary. The bible has said we are to be thankful, offering praise to God, in all circumstances, for this is the true sign of faith.
In my opinion, The foundation for true joy is built upon 3 fundamental things: gratitude, acceptance and love.
Love, we have been told is not a feeling, or a noun, but a verb and therefore requires a decisive action on our part. Gratitude works in a similar way. We need to awaken each day with the choice of intentionally finding and focusing on those things for which we are grateful, and then act upon those blessings. Expressing gratitude is a virtue, while living it, is an even greater striving. We should take the time to mindfully reflect on all we have been given, but also give thanks for ‘the difficulties’ and trials, for they, too have so much to teach us.
Gratitude is the recognition of the grace and blessings that have been poured out to us in obvious and sometimes,not so obvious ways. Life on this planet is sure to have it’s share of ups and downs, but it seems that those who have the greatest gratitude are those that have unwittingly been thrust into the darkness and have finally found the light.
I am grateful for so many things , but I will mention just a few. My family and dearest friends who have been there without fail, with a message ,a phone call, a hug or a listening ear. I am thankful that I have emerged with a greater appreciation for each day and the brevity of life. I am thankful that I can touch others’ lives as a therapist, while doing work that I enjoy. Service to others is the reason we are here.
I am thankful for faith that has sustained me during this past year and provides the message of hope and love that is the true meaning of the coming season.
I hope you find yourself filled with gratitude, acceptance and love, and therefore Joy, as you begin this holiday season!