Monday, October 13, 2008





Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. A day of gratitude. To give thanks. To acknowledge our blessings. To be thankful for our gifts.

Last night, My sister, J.T. and her husband hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. We were twelve. The five, "Gallagher girls", my eldest daughter's boyfriend's mother, C.C., his son, and the girls' boyfriends including one brother.

We laughed, and joked. Ate copious amounts -- dare I say too much -- gave thanks and appreciation and shared in the love and joy of family and friends gathered around a table.

Earlier in the day, Liseanne, my youngest daughter, and I went to the shelter to help serve lunch. A group of "hubbies", members of HUB, sponsored the turkey dinner, complete with pumpkin pie and whipped cream.

My job was to assist the woman guiding servers to the tables. I was watching for any altercations, any untoward behaviours that might derail the event.

As I walked through the dining area, I stopped to chat with clients and staff, to get a measure of their thanksgiving.

"What are you grateful for?" I asked as I waited by a table, or stood beside a frontline worker.

"This meal."

"I got to see my mom, yesterday."

"I have a job to go to after lunch."

"I made $23.00 picking bottles."

"My friends."

"My shift is over at 2pm."

"I got a pair of shoes that fit from the clothing room."

"I'm alive."

I asked one man sitting with a group of friends, waiting for their meals, what he was thankful for.

"Staff," he promptly replied. "Thanks to them, I'm alive today."

A week ago, he suffered a heart attack. His heart stopped beating. Staff quickly intervened. Cleared the area. Brought out the defibrillator and had his heart beating strongly by the time EMS arrived. Thanks to their prompt attention, and their care, he is alive today.

At the shelter I am constantly in awe of the spirit's will to live. Of our hearts desire to beat.

For this man, living at a shelter. Sharing his meals with 1,000 other people. Sharing his sleeping quarters with over 1,000 others. Sharing every waking moment with strangers. It is not how he would have imagined living. Ever.

It is not how I would want to live. Ever.

And yet. There he was, waiting for his turkey dinner, thankful for staff who saved his life.

As long as there is breath, there is life. As long as there is life, there is hope.
"Hope" is the thing with feathers-- That perches in the soul-- And sings the tune without the words-- And never stops--at all-- Emily Dickenson

I work in a world where hope lives.

No matter how lost. No matter how far they've fallen, how far they've strayed, we keep hope alive for those who cannot find their way back home. We keep hope alive for the families who have lost all hope of ever finding their loved ones again.

Without hope. All is lost.

I am grateful for those who came out to help serve yesterday, who made it possible for us to celebrate Thanksgiving with humble hearts and spirits over-flowing in love.

I am grateful for my sister, J., who created a memorable evening for all of us to share. A table laden with food. A home filled with love.

I am grateful for my daughters. Their love and laughter, their beautiful spirits, their forgiving souls, their loving embrace.

I am grateful for C.C. His kindness. His caring. His laughter. His love.

I am grateful for this day. The sunshine warming my feet as it streams through the patio door. The golden hues of autumn falling. The blue sky. The crisp morning air.

I am grateful for the hum of the furnace. The coffee brewing. Water that flows from a tap. A fridge that keeps the milk cool. Cupboards laden with food. Knives to cut bread with. Spoons to eat soup with.

I am grateful for Ellie. My faithful companion. My gentle friend.

I am grateful for my fingers typing across the keyboard. My heart filled with gratitude and love.

I am grateful for this moment where I sit bathed in the warm glow of gratitude.

I am grateful. I am blessed.

May your day be filled with blessings. May your heart be full of love. May each moment be filled with gratitude. May you fill your world with joy as you dance this one wild and precious life in love with all you are and loved by everyone around you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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