November 22, 2010

A Year ...

A year ago, my little boy Sam was in the natal intensive care unit. He came into the world only to be rushed away from us, put through numerous tests, poked, prodded, scanned... it was torture. I would have given anything to take his place. I've never seen my other two children grieve the way they did during that first week of his life. It was the culmination of a very difficult year of my life. One late night, my wife was spending time at the hospital with our new baby. I was driving there to pick her up. And while driving, I snapped. I screamed at God. I cursed, wept and begged God to show up. God did. But it wasn't instantaneous. It started subtly. And it began the day I found myself with a friend at a taco shop. He is a chain-smoking, former monk, who was at the time homeless.
I dumped everything.

Through the smoke he uttered, "I know the answer to your problems."

This was going to be good. My woes solved by a guy who couldn't get off the streets.

He squinted and said, "Gratitude."

I said, "Have you not been listening for the last 30 minutes?!?!"

He replied, "You need to wake up everyday and thank God for something in your life. It will change everything."

The week Sam was in the hospital I interviewed for the job I now hold. Last week, I gave an annual report to the church I work for. In that report, I said I was grateful for the job I hold. I am. I never saw myself where I am, but I love what I am doing. I don’t think that I’ve “settled.” And I don’t think I’ve “arrived.” I just feel that in order to do well, I’ve got to be able to be grateful for what I do have, not defeated by what I don’t. Today, I am grateful for a truly turn-around year. One that I wish so many others had right now.

My life is not perfect. I have exhausting and challenging moments. But I've tried to practice what my chain-smoking, formerly homeless, former monk friend directed me to do. Right now, I feel that gratitude with great intensity. We celebrated Sam's first birthday today. He is a healthy, active, precocious little boy that is deeply loved by so many. The day Sam came home, a corner was turned. A story began a new chapter. It started with trying to seek gratitude in the smallest of things.

As we see people off, or head off ourselves, for Thanksgiving I hope you can find something to be grateful for. It is the seed of the ancient Judeo-Christian ideals of Shalom, Sabbath and Jubilee. If you dream of these things practice gratitude. And if you think about it, let me know about your adventures, good and bad.

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