Several years ago now, Hurricane Katrina swept a not-so-elderly refugee into our lives. This lady was extended family in a round about, several degrees of separation sort of way, but my Mama took over her care as is she were flesh of her flesh and bone of her bone. The storm had dealt Mrs. Shirley a hard blow, but it’s after effects were nothing compared to the cancer that was ravaging her body. She was only here for a few months, but I'll never forget the valuable lesson she taught me as she dealt with her impending death.
I remember it clearly. I sat on her bed and reached for her hand.
“How are you today?” I asked.
She smiled widely. “I reckon it’s a pretty good day…as far as dying goes.”
We went on to talk about other things, including her craving for coconut cookies but I couldn’t get that phrase out of my mind, “as far as dying goes.” I knew what the doctors were saying, too. We all did. Their verdicts offered little hope. Unless the Lord granted Mrs. Shirley a miracle she was looking at days, not weeks. Knowing that you’re dying brings life a clarity that can’t be reached any other way. Mrs. Shirley had a hard won perspective. Even now I remember her telling me how badly she wanted to shake people and tell them to enjoy life, to treasure every day.
I left Mrs. Shirley’s room that evening with a renewed purpose, not only to count my blessings but to live in a way that spreads those blessings to those around me. Sound familiar to anyone? Then you can probably write the next line. Everyday life wasted no time coming in to challenge that commitment. It always does, doesn’t it? Sometimes our attitude of gratitude slips, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it flat out goes missing. I say, thank the Good Lord we can always find it again in God’s word and in prayer.
For, here’s a truth perfectly for Thanksgiving. If we can have a grateful heart for an hour, we can have a grateful heart for a day. If I can count my blessings today, I can count ‘em tomorrow. Just because we slip is no reason to quit trying. Gratitude is a habit, and it only gets better with practice. Let’s aim to live such a grateful life that it never takes someone else’s loss to remind us of our gain, or someone else’s pain to remind us of our blessings.
Happy Thanksgiving friends! It's back to the kitchen for me. :)