On April 21, 2017, I said goodbye to my mom for the last time. For me, this has felt like the spiritual equivalent of being run over by a truck. And so there has been a sense of “down,” a silent sadness I might say, that has been running in the background of my life since that terrible day.
For me, thinking about my One Little Word this year has turned into a contemplative search for a word that might serve to perhaps lift me up a bit, as well as those around me. I began by considering the word “aspire.” This word started me thinking about how, when we work to direct our hopes and ambitions in a new direction (that is, when we “aspire”), we often must actively seek to see things in a new way. So perhaps I should choose the word “resee?” How about “perspective?” But none of those words were hitting the mark.
In watching Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s video, posted by Kathleen this week, I became inspired by the notion that we all ought to try to make the most of our time here. After all, I’ve lost not only my mother rather suddenly, but my younger brother, too (car accident in 1997). So the sudden and fleeting nature of life is something I know firsthand.
And then, arguably by chance, my word found me. In a conversation with my wife, she reminded me of a practice I used to do every morning: recite all that I am grateful for in life. Grateful. There it was.
I realize that when we are grateful— really grateful in an intentional way– we advance ourselves in a new direction. As tragic and horrible as my mother’s death was, I am so grateful I got to spend her final hours by her side. Since I live on the opposite side of the country from her, it could have easily been otherwise.
These past few days, I have auditioned “Grateful.” And what I’ve discovered is when something seems hard or perhaps not the way I would choose, in place of a complaint or expression of exasperation, I choose gratitude. There is always something to be grateful for– I just have to find it.
As Amy Krouse Rosenthal and others remind us, we tend to find whatever it is we are looking for. Our lenses act as a filter for what ends up in our existential fishing nets. So finding what there is to be GRATEFUL for has helped me accomplish the goal of seeing things in a new way. And who knows where this word will lead this year…
What are you grateful for? Has your One Little Word found you, yet?
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