At this Thanksgiving season, there is so much for which we as caregivers can express gratitude. Gratitude enables us to see the many blessings all around us. The more we find to give thanks, the more things we find to be grateful for. Here are just a few examples:
- GRATITUDE for the grace to care for someone who is no longer able to care for himself/herself, and in so doing provide ripples of security and peace to relatives and friends;
- GRATITUDE for the opportunity to actualize our potential, and reinforce the virtues of patience, compassion, forgiveness and mercy, just to name a few;
- GRATITUDE for the gifts that we possess whether through genetics or birthright;
- GRATITUDE for the innate gifts and positive qualities that we possess but often take for granted, like creativity and resourcefulness;
- GRATITUDE for the people we have encountered on our life’s journey. No matter how brief the encounter, it has enabled us to experience our dignity and self-worth.
- GRATITUDE for the people who believe in us when we were unable to believe in ourselves;
- GRATITUDE for the unexpected beautiful moments in life, like the kindness of a stranger, the smile from a baby, the helping hand of a neighbor or relative;
- GRATITUDE for the gifts we have taken for granted, our parents, clean water, shelter, well-stocked supermarkets, etc.
- GRATITUDE for the many opportunities available as we navigate through difficult times;
- GRATITUDE for the memories we cherish.
Take time out to reflect on your own personal blessings, and perhaps even write these in your journal.
The Thanksgiving holiday provides not only an opportunity to be grateful for the blessings in our lives, but also to look at the challenges we faced this past year from a different perspective – a perspective of grace embedded in a silver lining.
Shift your focus now to recall a CHALLENGE that you once faced as a caregiver, one that was a painful experience, perhaps one which left you with some unfinished business. At the time when you were dealing with the CHALLENGE, you may not have had the resources to deal with it then, as you do now. What were your emotional assets at the time of that CHALLENGE? What made it difficult for you to draw on these assets?
Find a quiet place and a comfortable position to sit and reflect. Make sure that the chair is comfortable. Sit in an upright position with your shoulders relaxed. Place your feet flat on the floor, with your knees a few inches apart. Your hands are open, with palms down and resting on your thighs. Gently close your eyes and focus your awareness on your breath. As you breathe in, visualize drawing your breath from the universe, the same air that is available to all human beings, plants and animals. As you breathe out, visualize and feel your breath going into the universe, — a process of giving and receiving.
Allow thoughts of your personal CHALLENGE to come and go, without any embellishments, recriminations, or judgments. In retrospect, you are giving yourself the freedom to experience that CHALLENGE in a different way. You will now be looking at that CHALLENGE through new sophisticated lens which you have acquired for this specific purpose. In the process you have found a “gold nugget” amid the “debris.”
Had you been deprived of that CHALLENGE, would you be the same person you are today?
What important lessons have you learned from that experience? How has your experience enabled you to connect or empathize with people of similar experience? How will it enable you to face the CHALLENGES of today and the CHALLENGES of tomorrow?
Take a few moments now to write down your reflections from this meditation. What is the light that emerged from that darkness and for which you can truly give thanks this holiday season?
I wish you peace, patience, compassion and joy in your caregiving today and every day!
* * *
Many thanks to my friend and mentor, Merle Stern, who composed this Thanksgiving litany and its accompanying reflection!
* * *
My wishes and prayer for you this Thanksgiving are in a hymn composed by one of my favorite British composers, John Rutter. Please take a moment to listen to this blessing, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You:” https://youtu.be/PaLBndhralI.