Yesterday, I did a mini-survey at the homeless shelter where I work. I asked clients, staff and volunteers what they felt grateful for this weekend. For some, it didn't matter if they were a client or staff, there was a momentary hesitation, a thoughtfulness that caused them to take pause and ask themselves, What am I grateful for? For others, their response was automatic. I am grateful for my life.
In a place where plenty have little, gratitude and thanks abound. While a home is not on their list of gratitudes, clients were grateful for having a roof over their heads, a bed to sleep on, food in their bellies, people who watch out for them and protect them and friends to keep them company. They are grateful for the place that shelters them from the cold and warms their spirits.
For staff, having a job that excites and challenges them, and being able to work with great people topped the list. Having a home to go to at the end of the day, being alive and free, and having choices in life were the top attitudes on their gratitude lists.
Family, friends, being alive, waking up breathing - as one man answered, being sober, were commonalities amongst clients, staff and volunteers. The simplicity and sincerity of the responses demonstrates, it isn’t our differences that connect us but our humanity.
Author, Melodie Beattie, wrote, "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
My heart is brimming over with gratitude. I am grateful for my life, this body that carries me through each day, for the experiences that brought me to this place of giving thanks for all that I have received.
I am grateful for my daughters, the love that binds us, the love that sustains us, the love that gives each of us wings to fly without fear of falling. I am grateful for my family and friends, their support carries me through life's hurdles and eases me over the bumps in the road, their love fills my heart with laughter. I am grateful for C.C., he is teaching me how to be me in relation to another without fear of losing myself.
I am grateful for my many gifts, my creative spirit, my caring heart. I am grateful for work that fulfills me, passions that enliven me and opportunities that drive me through my fears. I am grateful for my cup of coffee in the morning, the pooch lying beside me, her breathing a steady reassurance that all is well in my world. I am grateful for the quiet of the morning, my daughters sleeping safe and secure in their beds. I am grateful for the day breaking outside my window, the birds pecking at the seed in their feeder, the cat sitting on the fence watching, anticipating an opportunity to pounce -- they make me smile and rejoice in the beauty and rhythm of life.
I am grateful for this moment where I write and words appear on the screen. I am grateful for the people who read my words, somewhere in the world, and connect me to the awesome power of this medium to span the distance between us so that we can share our hope, strength and courage.
I am grateful that my fingers move effortlessly, my body and mind are at ease and I have the ability to do things in my life that I had never imagined. I am grateful for the sound of the fridge humming in the background -- I have electricity, I have a fridge with food, I have plenty.
I am grateful for the plentifulness of my life. I am rich beyond my wildest dreams, my life a vibrant tapestry woven through with love and laughter, tears and sorrow, a brilliant painting of my life unfolding as I breathe deeply of the air around me and filled my heart with love.
I am grateful.
The question is: What's in your gratitude bouquet? Is it light as air, a joy to carry filled with thanks and gratitudes, or is it loaded down with resentments? What do you give thanks for?