“The root of joy is gratefulness….It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” This quote from David Steindl-Rast reminds me of a little boy in Nigeria who for me embodies this. It was midafternoon when the sun is most intense and this boy was carrying a massive load of firewood on his head. At the same time, he was merrily pushing an old bicycle tire frame with a forked stick seemingly oblivious to the heat or the load he was carrying! We have much to learn from others and their simple gratitude for the gift of life. Whenever asked to pray Nigerians almost always began by thanking God for life and being able to rise on that morning.
In Canada, most of us have much to be grateful for but we too have our street people, the homeless and single mothers struggling to provide for their children. There are also many newcomers many of whom have fled violence or areas suffering from natural disasters caused by climate change. How do we welcome them? Do we hold our politicians accountable for their policies and do we advocate for more subsidized and low-cost housing? Are we becoming informed about the candidates running for office in our upcoming local elections? These are practical ways we can express our gratitude and take responsibility for sharing the blessings we have received. There are many ways we can volunteer: soup kitchens, drop-in centers, food banks, visiting seniors, teaching English to newcomers and many more.
May our thanksgiving reach beyond one day a year to embrace a whole way of living in which we realize that all is a gift.
“Gratefulness is the inner gesture of giving meaning to our life by receiving life as a gift.” David Steindl-Rast
-Sr. Rosemary Williamson, OLM