Yesterday, I had the privilege of conducting a memorial service for a truly extraordinary lady. It was not her life achievements, or her public profile, or even her acts of service that made her extraordinary - it was her humble and grateful way of living. This woman suffered with poor health in her later years, bringing exhaustion, frustration and a loss of independence. Despite all of this, each and every time I visited her over the last five years or so, she would tell me, "I am incredibly blessed, Cathie." As she sat in the hospital chair, unable to support her own body weight, carrying the pain and hurt of her life, the first thing on her lips was gratitude for her family and the life she had led.
It is a choice to live this way. Some may call it a "Pollyanna" way of life and dismiss it as unrealistic. But seeing how it brought joy and peace to this woman's life, I see it as admirable. Robb Hillman, a life coach, once said, "I don't think Pollyanna was simple and naïve to reality. I think she was a badass who bent reality to her will. Optimism isn't lazy, it is a fierce battle of consciously choosing the perspective that best serves you". Living a life of gratitude, counting your blessings each day and finding the good in things is hard work.
In today's world, we need people who will not fall prey to playing the victim. We need people who will see the good in our world and talk openly about it. We need people whose hearts are not hardened by the hate and fear in our societies. And more than anything, we need people who have hope. I certainly know that this is what I want in my life. Goodness knows, there is enough negativity and bad news around us to last a lifetime.
There is a book on my "to read" list on this very subject, Diana Butler Bass' "Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks". One of the quotes I have read from this book is, "Gratitude is not about stuff. Gratitude is the emotional response to the surprise of our very existence, to sensing that inner light and realising the astonishing sacred, social and scientific events that brought each one of us into being. We cry out like the psalmist, 'I am fearfully and wonderfully made!'"
And so, today, I want to give thanks for the life of Belle that was fearfully and wonderfully made and hope and pray that her inspiration will help me to find that inner light that keeps me counting my blessings and remaining grateful.