When you hear the word, Gratitude, what comes to mind? Do you replay the thousands of times your parents reminded you to say please and thank you? Have you noticed how many times we give thanks and praise to our Lord during liturgy every week? Do you only say thank you when you’re reminded to do so?
Last week, the parish staff enjoyed a Staff Pray Day facilitated by fellow parishioner, Ann Pettit. The setting, a beautiful spot on the beach in Ventura. The theme for the day, “Gratitude.”
The staff pray day couldn’t have come at a better time for me and, honestly, I almost didn’t attend. I’m really busy with my husband and teenage kids; piles of dirty laundry that aren’t going to wash themselves; juggling two jobs with a to-do list that is over three pages long and growing … It’s not that I didn’t want to go, I just didn’t have time … I did show up, albeit late, because, well, my life’s just that hectic right now …
I walked in to find my coworkers in a very serene state of mind, quietly reflecting and so peaceful. My first thought was, “Where can I get some of that feeling? I’m too stressed to be like that!”
Ann helped me realize that I’ve been letting the wrong task list take the power position in my life. That I need to retrain myself to stop and give thanks, genuine thanks throughout the day, even for the little things. And that I should give thanks for the good times and the bad, because there’s something special in all that God has planned for us. How is that possible? Why give thanks for bad things? Take for example, a glass of spilled milk. You know the saying, “Don’t cry over spilled milk?” While there’s no sense getting mad about the spill now that it’s happened, we should instead be giving thanks that we had a glass of milk in the first place…
So, as I let myself unwind and live in the moment, I was able to feel a special communion with God taking place. I stopped, looked, listened, breathed, cried, laughed and then cried a lot more as I let the world around me come into better focus. And all because I slowed down enough to truly and deeply say, “Thank you, God.”
As I write this note, I’m on day number three of my personal stop, drop and pray program. I can already feel a greater sense of calm as I reclassify some of my daily challenges into grateful opportunities. It’s hard to believe the power of simply saying thank you.
I’d like to thank all of you, my parish family, for being so wonderful to me and my family. We are truly blessed to be members of this loving parish community. I see God’s grace in all of you; how you truly care for each other and strangers; how you give of yourselves to make Padre Serra a loving and welcoming place to help our community encounter Jesus and be disciples.
Thank you, Ann for helping me find greater focus. I am forever grateful.
Parish Business Manager