“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
~William Arthur Ward
It doesn’t take much for me to rise above; a little encouragement, a little grace, a strong hug.
It doesn’t take much for me to get knocked down either; running myself ragged, negative interactions, unforeseen mishaps. When I’m in this place, I need to meditate on the good. Thankfully, I don’t need to look far into my past, or present, to find something to be grateful for.
When my husband died, generosity poured in. People from my church, Elevation, brought over dozens of home-made dinners. I didn’t have to think about cooking for months. Work gave me grace and understanding. My mother stayed with me for two weeks, and my sister took over where my mother left off. Even the government provided a stipend.
Sometimes I think to myself, ‘How many people suffer loss alone? How many people live in countries where their governments are indifferent, or work in jobs where employers care more about their bottom line than the people who fatten it?‘
I can point to hundreds, no, thousands, of life-giving acts of love and compassion that sheltered my daughter and I in the desert of our sorrow.
Here are two examples.
Mel and Gary are close friends of mine. On the night of my husband’s memorial service, my daughter was overwhelmed, over-tired, and I couldn’t be her mom. Without hesitation, Mel took my daughter in her arms, drove her to our house, and put her to sleep in her own bed.
Not a week went by before Mel and Gary extended a standing invitation for dinner. Once a week my daughter was invited to join them for supper, while I had two hours to myself, or could join them for dinner if I chose.
Dinners at Mel and Gary’s equated to treasured moments. My daughter had a VIP pass to an environment where she could interact with a father-figure, grow a deeper connection with her partial guardian family, and be embraced by an extended community of love.
Our roots of love and admiration for this family have dug deep in rich, and nourishing soil.
Deb and Steve go to my church, Elevation. In fact, Steve is one of the Pastors.
The theme of Deb and Steve’s lives I would say has clearly been to “live life together,” and “together” includes anyone who will join their tapestry; they welcome anyone who will come to weave a new thread through their masterpiece. They see the beauty in every strand.
When my husband died, I had a lot of questions. My questions weren’t all new, but they were louder in my head and refused to be silenced. I became unwilling to settle for flimsy, unsubstantiated, fantastical responses. Steve and Deb engaged me. They opened their home, and their hearts to my inquisitive mind. They invited me to weekly dinners, and welcomed me to ask any question, or approach any topic.
Above all, Steve and Deb shared life with me; the heights of my mountain peaks, the shadows of my valley dips, the times of numbness spent hovering over a flat, barren plateau. Whether displaced, giddy, angry, sad, curious, loving, hollow…however I came, they welcomed me in. Their feast of love sustained me.
How can I under-estimate the power of love and support? Any strength I have, resiliency, and capacity to give back to others today, I attribute to the model of love my Creator has bestowed on me, and the earthly angels who have become the human expressions of that love in my life. Each of these have been my teachers, showing me how to carry the next person from the shadows of the valley to the heights of mountain peaks, and to walk with others through every path in-between. May I recognize the beauty of each thread, as it adds to the grandeur of the master tapestry.