The Colours of Gratitude
Sometimes I learn the darnedest things during ‘children’s time’ at Parkdale. Sometimes it is through a response from a child who is wise beyond his/her years. Other times, it is through the fresh, simple approach of the clergy telling the story and I wonder how it is that I missed that story or insight while I was attending Sunday school as a youngster.
It was just such a Sunday on July 1st, 2007. Reverend Ann Durant was on duty during Anthony’s sabbatical. As we sat there in our red and white Canada Day colours, Reverend Ann told the children about the controversy of saying prayers in schools and public places. She told them that Canada’s national anthem was written as a hymn. We could also think of it as singing a prayer. Therefore, children still say a prayer each day at school, she reasoned. I never thought of it that way!
Afterwards, Reverend Ann invited us all to stand to sing the national hymn (anthem). As I stood singing, my thoughts wandered to the years when the national anthem video was played in movie theatres before the beginning of the movie. I often went to the movies as a teenager and I loved that video. I marvelled at the scenes of the majestic Rockies; wondered what it would be like to live in the wide open wheat fields of the Prairies; gasped as the kayaker raced through the mighty waters of Ontario; and was then soothed by the scenes of the waves of the Atlantic Ocean as they lapped up against the rocky shores of Nova Scotia.
One time, as I stood singing during that video, I looked beside me because I couldn’t hear my friend singing. Surprisingly, my friend was seated and silent. After the movie, I enquired as to why my friend had not stood for the national anthem. “I’m not from here and frankly, I don’t care where I live,” protested my friend. I don’t recall if I responded, but I remember that I felt sad that my friend did not see the beauty that I saw and did not feel what I felt when I sang our amazing anthem.
It was during Reverend Ann’s story that I understood the significance of that moment in the movie theatre. I realized that a person’s outlook on life and one’s surroundings is a direct reflection of how much gratitude we have for God’s daily blessings and abiding love. Every little moment in our day is coloured by our own attitude.
If you think about it, you probably know people who always find a way to be thankful for the tiniest of things — they are constantly aware of how blessed they are. They often blurt out “I’m so lucky!” Even their smiles radiate gratitude. Somehow, they almost always seem at peace even when everyone is complaining around them. That’s because it is often simply a matter of adopting an “attitude of gratitude.”
These are the same people that have good memories, recalling where they came from, the struggles of their parent(s); the challenges in their own life that have brought them to their current circumstances and character. They are grateful even for the bad parts in their life because those parts help them to appreciate the good. They are also very aware that they didn’t earn their time, talents and treasures. These are gifts from a gracious and generous God who asks only that we use them for His glory.
Of course, being grateful internally is just the beginning. Like all gifts from God, gratitude is best shared rather than hoarded. How do you share your gratitude? Do you give thanks for each meal; thank your loved ones for all that they are and all that they do; tell your friends how much you value their friendship; and appreciate the political freedoms that we enjoy in this country by learning the issues and voting for a responsible candidate?
Do you spend time with the ill/lonely and regularly share your resources with those who are less fortunate; give thanks for the religious freedoms that we have and pray for those that do not; thank a veteran for serving; and extend the hand of fellowship to other Parkdalers and tell them what a blessing they are?
How will you steward and share your gratitude this week?
Barbara Hennessy, Chair