Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

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Monday, April 15, 2019

You will not always have me

Gratitude can be expressed in many ways. Most people write a card or buy a gift or dinner to the person they want to thank. Some offer to lend a hand, to raise a wall, to show their appreciation for whatever was given to them.

And some things leave you wondering how best to say thank you. Perhaps you might not even know that the feeling you have is gratitude, much less how to best express it. I often find myself forgetting all the things I have that can make me feel grateful, as long as I notice them. But when I do notice them, I am more than honored to share my feelings of gratitude and love for the kindness given.

Let me describe a little story that happened last week. I was at a work conference in Phoenix and a business colleague who I have known for at least a couple decades was attending. He brought his 90 year old mother along, picking her up at the airport after her flight from her home in Florida. She's a charming, delightful person and I immediately enjoyed her presence. At one of the receptions, he asked me to tell his mother about my volunteer efforts at Laundry Love. I described how I volunteer at a couple of Laundry Love offerings: one in Hollywood, one in Eagle Rock. I shared that we offer 2 hours where folks who are struggling to make ends meet can wash their clothes, receive detergent, dry their items, and even toss in a dryer sheet, with the funds coming from donations and from local religious organizations. Folks can walk away with some dignity wearing clean clothes; some families don't have to choose between laundry and food; some folks can walk into a job or job interview wearing clean apparel.

She thanked me for telling her about this volunteer work and was glad to hear that it was becoming popular across the country. And the next night at the conference, she brought me to tears. She had walked over to my dinner table and grasped my hand, gently but firmly placing money in it. "Thank you for what you do. I do hope that Laundry Love can use this."

I thanked her and could not get the story out of my mind. It was such a caring gesture at a business setting. It's not something you see often at a technology conference unfortunately. It was an intoxicating, infectious moment. Her gratitude filled me with my own gratitude. Gratitude creates gratitude, like love creates love. If you've read Diana Butler Bass's latest book "Gratitude", you'll find numerous examples like this moment, and I cherish these moments that connect me with things I've read, with my left brain life, with hand-grasping-hand gestures of love.

It made me think of one of the Lenten gospel readings of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus welcoming Jesus into their homes. Mary lavished oil on Jesus's feet, drying it with her hair. Others balked at the extravagant gesture but Jesus said let her be. You will not always have me.

We should not be afraid to love those who bring love into our lives, into our homes, into our hearts. We should lavish them with the gratitude that fills you, because love and gratitude are not zero sum games. They grow and proliferate when we share them abundantly. There's no need to hold back. Be generous in your love and gratitude for love is generous with you. Nothing in this world is permanent, and everything moves on. So show it now. Share it now. Be thankful now.

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