Grateful for the light
That warms, discerns, gives hope, strengthens
And connects us to each other
Thanksgiving is not a holiday I grew up celebrating. Growing up in India, I remember being taught to say a prayer and offer gratitude to the Creator as soon as I awoke each morning and before sleeping at night. Attending a Catholic school, we started each morning with the Lord’s Prayer and prayed before each meal. Each prayer was an offer of gratitude. Living in the USA for 30 years while I continue my childhood ritual, we have also embraced the Thanksgiving holiday and celebrate with family and friends and the community at work.
I had never tasted turkey till 1993. I enjoy it in small quantities and sorry, but I do spice it up with the never-ending supply of Texas Pete, Siracha or Sambhal Olek in my pantry. I have also improvised an Indian version I call Tandoori Turkey (my apologies to the turkey purists).
While I knew that Thanksgiving would not involve the physical presence of the family and friends this year, my heart was still filled with gratitude. Though I am mindful to offer gratitude each day, since March I have been intentional about naming two to four things that I am grateful for because of COVID-19, silver linings inspired by COVID, and doing the same with colleagues and family. At work we took time each day as a team to share these gratitudes. This intentional reframing has helped me maintain joy and peace when I feel sad, powerless, frustrated, anxious, when I miss my children who I have not seen since last December.
And I have so much to be grateful for. My physical needs are met. I have tremendous emotional support and opportunities to give back, serve and care. I have a community which allows me to be me, with all my imperfections and idiosyncrasies.
Each Friday I make time to intentionally check-in with my work community, what I call a Buddy Check. The check-in text message is a a positive quote, phrase or picture followed by a reflective prompt, good wishes and invitation to pay it forward as desired. This has now formed a community of care and connection across the country. The Friday before Thanksgiving, as I reflected on the coming Thanksgiving weekend, this is the quote and prompt I shared, and invited them to share, saying I would post responses on my blog:
“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”
– Meister Eckhart
What are you thankful for and what allows you to focus on gratitude?
I am grateful for a connection with you, you enrich my life. Thank you!
Sending you happy thoughts and prayers for a calm, peaceful, restful, and safety this weekend! Have a blessed one🙏🏻(feel free to pay this forward)
Of course this was only an invitation, no pressure to participate. What I received was so heartwarming and beautiful:
“I am grateful for friends who love me when I'm not at my best - “through thick and thin.” I'm also grateful for God giving me what I need when things look bleak and I don’t know what to do.
“Grateful for perspective - you can always find someone who has it worse than you. It helps you see the forest, not just the trees. Keeps you grounded.”
“I think the two things for which I’m most thankful are strength (inner strength and the strength of those around me) and hope. I suppose both of those are also what allow me to focus on gratitude as each is a gift worthy of thanks.”
“I’m thankful for journeys and light. For journeys made possible because of those before me and those whose strength inspire me to keep going. I’m also thankful for light because wherever there is darkness there is always light. These give me hope and a capacity for gratitude.”
“I am thankful for my able-bodiedness, ability to get around and go see places and people that I love. I am thankful for the friends and family who have faithfully supported me and I have the privilege of supporting!”
“I’m thankful for the love and support from my family, friends, and colleagues during this challenging year.”
“Thankful for so many things. I think right now I am particularly very thankful for coworkers, neighbors, church members and others in my community that lift me up when I’m down and push me outside my comfort zone to better places when I’m not. This has been a remarkably challenging season not being able to visit home as often as I’d like to, but it has made me all that more thankful for the family and friends I’ve made here. And also thankful for zoom and FaceTime to see and connect with those that are far away!”
“I love this! I had a professor in college who used to say ‘I know that God exists because I am thankful.’ I'm incredibly thankful for my family, and I'm incredibly thankful for the healthcare workers who give them back their health!”
“I am thankful for the simple things in life - wholesome meals, fulfilling conversations with family, warm coffee, and sunny morning walks in the brisk fall.”
“So beautiful. I am thankful for every blessing that God gave me: being surrounded by a loving family and beloved friends.”
“Many claim 2020 as the worst year of their lives but I see it just the opposite. In the midst of turmoil, pain, hardships, sickness, grief, and personal suffering I find myself in a state of thankfulness and gratitude - being thankful for my family remaining intact after the death of my father last year, I find myself grateful to the Lord for granting me His grace mercy comfort and peace that passes all understanding ~ because without His refugee and strength each day that I thought I could not get through without my Daddy being here with us .... He brought me/us through 2020, which has been a challenge for everyone but I shan’t complain - I will simply be thankful with a grateful heart of its blessings … (count your many blessings name, them one by one, count your many blessings, see what God has done).”
“In this time of uncertainty, I am grateful for my loved ones’ health and the relationship I have with family, friends and my community in Chattanooga.”
“I am thankful for the people I love. I focus on gratitude through daily conversations with them.”
“I share the famous Cherokee Indian parable of the two wolves for you to share at Thanksgiving. Peace, love and blessings to you:
One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’ The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’ the old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one that you feed.’
What amazing offerings to make Thanksgiving 2020 meaningful in so many ways. As I savored the delicious traditional Thanksgiving meal provided by my dear neighbor Elaine, I read them many times with tears of gratitude. I resonate with all the sentiments.
This Thanksgiving was even more special and meaningful for our family. I am blessed to have my parents with me, especially in this season of my life. While Mummy celebrated her 80th birthday and Papa his 84th this pandemic year, they both celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Thanksgiving day!
I hope your Thanksgiving was full of joy and that December brings a special light.
How is the coronavirus and civil unrest around racism changing the way you think of self-care, community and resilience? As this challenging time unfolds, I am posting a quote with a reflection prompt. Please join in the conversation here or on Twitter or Instagram with what you are doing for self-care and care of others. My new book explores these ideas too: Resilient Threads: Weaving Joy and Meaning into Well-Being.