Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Gratitude

A few weeks ago, around Mother's Day, my dad was volunteering with the SAWs program at St. Luke's and Second Presbyterian Church. They were building a wheelchair ramp for this family in Indianapolis, and in the course of the day, they got to know the owner of the home to which they were adding the wheelchair ramp.

While they were talking, the homeowner all of a sudden asked my dad to wait right where he was and ran into the house. When he came back, he had a decorative, clear glass candy dish in his hands, which he gave to my dad to share with my mom as a Mother's Day gift. My folks now keep that delicate, beautiful dish on their kitchen counter, right in the middle of everything at the house.

This afternoon I went to Broadway Church, where I used to work, to have lunch with my former co-worker, Mary. When I walked in, Mary immediately handed me a decorative, clear glass votive holder shaped like a sleeping kitten.

"This is from Fannie," Mary told me. "She dropped it off the other day to let you know she's thinking of you."

Fannie is one of the neighbors who lives around the church. She was facing an uphill battle (troubled relationship, medical issues, financial issues, etc.) when I first met her a year and a half ago. And over the course of several months, we got to know each other through conversations in my office and in the 'hood, including an eye-opening trip to the Wishard Hospital ER after some bad stuff went down at her apartment. I haven't seen Fannie since I left Broadway Church about six months ago.

When Mary gave me the gift from Fannie, I told her between sniffles (shut up) about the glass candy dish that my dad had recently received, and I marvelled (again) at the generosity of those who have so little. And I felt ignorant (again) both for being surprised at the gift, from such a darling woman, and for not being more generous with what I have to give. Above all, I appreciated the reminder to be grateful for the multitudes of blessings in my life -- and I seriously mean "multitudes."

Those two gifts -- one for my dad and one for me, received about a week apart -- are, I think, great symbols of how we should treat each other: sharing with each other everything we have out of joy, celebrating the delicate beauty of each other with delight, and remembering to be grateful for what we do have.

For, even when it's hard to see it, we are truly and greatly blessed.

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