Last week Hurricane Sandy ravaged my home state of New Jersey, along with other mid Atlantic states, on its path toward the northern midwest. Entire coastal cities have been devastated, even destroyed, by wind and water, thousands of trees have been uprooted and power lines in my community remain mangled and severed with hundreds of people still in the dark as we head into a new week with a new snow storm prediction. And, as if in a weird deja vu, Hurricane Sandy mirrored last year’s Halloween storm which left behind so much wreckage and power outages. Trick-or-trick.
As we rolled into Tuesday and Wednesday, emails and text messages from my friends across the country came in to wish me luck and to confirm my family’s safety. But, I experienced this year’s storm very differently because, aside from fallen branches on my block, once I closed my curtains the day of the storm, it was very much a non-event for me. I did not lose power, my basement did not flood and there was no damage to any of my personal property. Most importantly, my family is safe. I have so much to be grateful for. So, I opened up my home to those who were hit by the storm and for the past week, my little townhouse became somewhat of a way station for those who needed showers, a charge for their phone, a warm place to sleep or get a hot meal. My refrigerator has been full of thawing food and I cooked it up every day for the people who stopped by and shared stories of the storm. Teenagers came and went, in their teenagery way, as they enjoyed the week off from school and my life and home was full of storm-induced energy.
It feels good to offer up help and, though the circumstances are terrible, I am grateful for the relationships I have that make this feeling possible. As we make our way through this month of thanks-giving, I am working very hard on practicing gratitude. Authentic gratitude, when we really truly and deeply feel it, is an amazing thing and I find that it brings a calm and a serenity that can combat some of my most tenacious anxieties. In my most grateful moments, I find I can even embrace the negative experiences and discover the gift that they hold for me. Gratitude is that which fills the glass halfway.
In thinking about gratitude I did a search for others who have written about it and I found an excellent blog called Zenhabits by Leo Babuta. This site is full of so much goodness that I have become a subscriber and plan to soon hit Babuta’s Top 20 list. In an archived post from 2009, he wrote about gratitude and, in summary, said that it reminds us of what’s important. His post ends with a Gratitude Prayer (it is a secular prayer, appropriate for any person and any denomination) that gives me pause as I consider my own life:
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.
It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.
There will be more on thankfulness this month as we make our way to the big day of Thanksgiving but we can begin to write the story of gratitude each and every day in our own lives right now. And, my friends, you should know that I have so much gratitude for all of you who stop by this little spot in cyber space each month to read the Monday Blog. I am honored and humbled.
I hope that all of you out there are finding ways to weather this storm.
TRY THIS WEEK: Find gratitude.