Personal Gratitude

When pandemic days begin and end almost like every other day, it’s easy to lose track of days. Time drags behind or races forward to leave me in a state of confusion. So each morning, I bring myself into the present by saying the equivalent of “Today is Friday, July 31, 2020. Thank you, God, for letting me see this day.”

As 2020 shifted from a metaphor of 2020 vision to an overdue awakening. We have a highly contagious virus, public health emergency, economic collapse, and racial reckoning on top of climate disaster. Everywhere I look, these calamities have become politicized and full of anger. I need about twice as much time in centering prayer, inspirational reading, and contemplative writing as I did just a few months ago.

I made a point of turning my morning walk into a Gratitude Walk. It’s a simple practice to pay attention to trees and plants, birds and squirrels, and to exchange waves or conversations with neighbors.

Gratitude is my base line. If I am hospitalized with covid or anything else, if no one in my family can visit, if I am too weak to speak, I can remember to be grateful. Nurses, aides, doctors, cleaners, all do their part to help me. I am grateful to distant family members and dear friends who are longing for my return to health. And if that is not possible, if death comes, I am grateful to the bone for this life, imperfect and beautiful, and for its very existence.

My next reflection will be to shift beyond personal gratitude. What if we expanded the notion to our neighborhood, community, town, or state? What would that look like? What can each of us do to strengthen gratitude wherever we go?


4 Replies to “Personal Gratitude”

  1. Such a beautiful reflection. During these weeks of increased isolation, I’ve become particularly appreciative of my neighbors, many now long-time friends. Waves and greetings across the lawns are reassuring reminders of our care and concern for each other and, yes, gratitude for these simple gifts.

    1. There is an element of sadness in our isolation, but we share an abundance of good will by helping one another and connecting in entirely new and unexpected ways. This contributes to my feeling of gratitude.

  2. Thank you for this, Kathleen. Wisdom in your words, and in your question for all of us. How can we shape our private forms of gratitude into a healing public practice?

    1. That’s a key question. We will need significant healing from the injuries of pandemic, economic collapse, and racial disparities laid bare. We’ll begin by feasting, dancing, and singing, then with gratitude we’ll begin to build a stronger community. Still exploring the possibilities.

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