It's been a tough year for us. While thankfulness doesn't erase the ache of adversity, it can ease it. I'm choosing to focus on the year's blessings this week.
January: I am grateful for tutoring three razor smart first grade boys from Africa. They didn't speak a word of English but used the universal law of learning: mimic what you see. One morning Mohammed grabbed my sticky notes and a marker and made a name tag for himself. He passed the tools so the others could make their own. When I looked puzzled he pointed at the name tag on my chest. It was my privilege to help them get a good start in their new lives, and a weekly source of fun.
February: Cold nights and starry skies. Living in a city now, the stars are masked. I close my eyes and thank God for many nights I stepped outside our North Carolina home to marvel at the studded vault above me.
March: What can be more glorious than the month's progression from tight red leaf buds to Bradford pears dressed like brides, electrifying redbud blossoms, and yellow daffodils carpeting the landscape?
April: Sorrowfully we decided to sell our beloved home and move close to our family. An unexpected hospital stay confirmed the timing.
May: Off-season harvest from seven years teaching middle school. Two of my students, now married to one another, invited us to celebrate their daughter's birthday. One of the other guests was also a former student. She enthusiastically reported that she was teaching in a preschool, and thanked me for my inspiriting example. Wonder of wonders!
June: Beach week! Even though it was cut short by my husband's medical emergency, my friends poured love out and arranged a pony express to get me home. Everyone rallied for Bill's surgery and recovery.
July: Despite reduced mobility, I savored summer: a cool bath with the breeze blowing the curtains, fresh peas from the garden. The bright blue balls hanging from the hydrangea surprised me every time I walked by them since it had been badly damaged by frost.
August and September: Unable to do much, the 3 year old and I squeezed into the red recliner and tilted back. There we spent many happy hours reading and laughing, reenacting Humpty Dumpty at least fifty times.
October: I can drive! I can walk!
November: Struggling with revised, negative diagnosis for my dear husband. Oh, my God, thank you for his friendship, gentleness and love during the forty three years of our marriage.
Whatever your troubles this year, pause. Recall instances of beauty, acts of kindness received, relationships enjoyed, meaningful work. Then read your list to somebody.
Gratitude shared is gratitude multiplied.
Let me hear an amen!