You Are a Blessing
“I’m endlessly grateful for all of life’s blessings.”
That’s what Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the house floor on Thursday when she announced she would no longer seek a leadership position in Congress. Pelosi said the time had come for a new generation to assume that role.
Listening to her speak, I witnessed a woman who was grateful for what was and who is looking forward to what will be. I have deep respect for Speaker Pelosi. She’s a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a skilled political operative, a trailblazer, and a legendary figure in American politics.
Blessings come to us all at different times and in different ways, and being able to express gratitude for them—be it on the floor of the U.S. Capitol or in one’s own home—is something each of us should try and do. The truth is that with our lives changing so quickly, it’s often difficult to pause, reflect, and take stock of our blessings. Many of us are struggling to keep up. We’re struggling to balance everything that is on our plates. But this moment is all that we have, and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. So this is exactly the moment to stand before ourselves and reflect on where we are at this time.
Now, you may be in a place where blessings are the last thing on your mind. You may be suffering right now, be it with a health challenge, a family challenge, a financial challenge, or a job challenge. You may feel hopeless at this very moment. If that’s the case, acknowledge this moment and simply rest. Offer yourself compassion and be gentle with yourself.
Take a moment to acknowledge all you have been through and honor yourself for getting to this point. I’m so thankful you are here in community, and I know I’m not alone. If you find yourself ruminating on this day or about the past, go slow and allow the images of what’s happened or what you’ll miss to arise. It’s okay. Sit with them for a bit.
For years, I used to go home to Washington DC every Thanksgiving to visit my parents. All my brothers and their families would gather there, and I loved it. It was a beautiful time in my life, but alas, that time has passed. Every Thanksgiving, my mind and my heart take me back. I miss that time dearly. I miss my parents and I miss what was, yet I’m so grateful that I experienced all of it when I did.
The present moment is very different from the past and yet I find myself on this day looking forward to sharing my table with my friends, my children, their friends, my brother and his family. I have slowly created a new tradition. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Yes, it involves family, friendships, food, laughter, and football—and I love all those things—but at its core it’s about gratitude and giving thanks. It’s about thinking about our life in terms of the blessings bestowed on us throughout our lives.
Several years ago I started not just a meditation practice but a gratitude practice as well. I started both during a dark time in my own life when I felt anything but blessed. Being able to focus my mind on my blessings during this time was a blessing in itself. It allowed me to look at my situation from a place of gratitude. It helped me ground myself in my faith. And, it cleared away so much of what was causing me to feel afraid, dark or sad and in turn helped me see and feel how blessed I truly was.
So every morning and every evening now, I give thanks. I give thanks for my health, thanks for my children, thanks for my grandchildren, and thanks for my friends. I give thanks for the roof over my head and the food on my plate. I give thanks for the tools that I’ve received in therapy, the love that is given to me for no reason, and the hope that I have from having this practice.
Not everything in life can be viewed through the lens of blessings. I get that. For many who’ve lost a loved one. There will be an empty chair at the table this Thanksgiving. I’ve been thinking a lot about that in regards to the families in Uvalde and the so many other families affected by tragedy or loss this year.
I actually find the day after Thanksgiving a bit humbling because people who may have come to be with you move on. You may also find yourself on that day struggling with a holiday that didn’t go exactly as you had imagined. Then all of a sudden it’s Sunday and you are looking ahead at the rush of the holiday season, thinking of gifts you can’t afford or places you can’t go. It may all be overwhelming, but we’ve got you. So let’s go slow and stay in blessing mode. Let’s stay in community and remind ourselves we are not alone. We can reach out, and we can move forward together.
If you find yourself in this place next week, perhaps finding just one thing that you can count as a blessing is a good place to start. I’ve always taken comfort in the dawn of a new day and the chance to begin again. The truth is that each and every one of us is a new person on any given day. Each day allows us to evolve, to grow, to reflect, and to look out with our eyes wide open. Each of us is a blessing in another person’s life, just as another has been a blessing on ours. Let that sink in.
I believe that even in death there are blessings, which is why we started a new vertical this week to honor the life of someone who passed away. Death is such a moment of profound grief and sadness and yet it’s a moment to be grateful for a life beautifully lived. Death also offers us lessons for how to live.
In fact, I’ve been blessed to sit with people I loved as they made their journey to their next great adventure. I’ve learned from those who faced death head-on and shared life lessons for which they were grateful. So this week we are celebrating a life of faith, of fatherhood, and of service written by a man’s friend in honor of their friendship. I love that we are adding this section to our paper because death is as much a part of life as love, aging, the arts, service to humanity, and the news are.
So this week, my hope is for you to see yourself as the blessing you are. Sit with that for a moment. Close your eyes and allow that to sink into your being. You are a blessing. Wow. Thank you for being here, and happy Thanksgiving. I am so grateful for you.
Prayer of the Week
Dear God, may I be so grateful this week for all that you have given me. Even when I long for what was, let me appreciate what I have now and be grateful for what’s yet to come. Amen.