One of my favorite stories about gratitude centers on Ethel Goldberg (a fictitious character). Ethel was a proud grandmother and always looked forward to visits from her grandson David. Nine-year-old David lived in New York and flew to see his grandmother in Miami once a year. Ethel prepared for his visit by packing a picnic lunch that they would take to the beach.
When Ethel picked up David at the airport he immediately talked about going to the beach, since swimming in the ocean was his passion. With picnic basket in hand, they arrived at the beach and immediately he jumped into the water. The beautiful sunny day matched Ethel’s joyful mood. After a short time Ethel did not see David in the water. She stood up and screamed for help and began to shake her fist at the sky, angry at God for taking her only grandson away. Within a minute David’s body washed up on the shore. He was alive and the crowd came over to Ethel to share the joyful outcome. However, Ethel continued to shake her fist at God. They could not understand why she was not celebrating. Soon they heard her say, “He had a hat!”
Ethel belonged to the “what have you done for me lately” school of theology. I believe she identified with the nine in scripture who did not give thanks.
I think an attitude of gratitude begins with welcoming silence in our lives. Through silence we can come face to face with the blessings that come our way, even in times of loss or disappointment.
Living in a world wrapped in fear of terrorism, a country deeply divided politically, in the midst of critical social issues, it is important to reflect on the good that has happened this year. I am grateful that several states have passed common sense gun control legislation, calling for universal background checks. Laudato Si also brings good news by serving as a catalyst for serious conversations on global climate change around the country. I also celebrate the fact that there is greater awareness of human trafficking and organizations such as SOAP, ECPAT and our own human trafficking committee that are making a difference in addressing this critical issue.
There is much to be grateful for! Happy Thanksgiving.