Before I left Ohio for Hollywood back in August, I knew that I’d write a Thanksgiving post. Maybe that’s a confession to the dedication I knew I would have to this blog. I had all sorts of ideas about what I could tell everyone about thankfulness after 3 months of service, but I find myself angling in a different direction.
What does it mean to be thankful? I pose a lot of questions in my blog posts because I’m constantly asking myself questions. I have this threadbare sheet set back home that was one of my all time favorites when I was little. It’s a bunch of characters from Peanuts and all the little pictures have something written above them like, “Happiness is being one of the gang.” The sheets were covered with all these “Happiness is” sentences and as a little girl I always came up with more in my mind that I added hypothetically to the pattern. But now I’m asking myself instead, “what is thankfulness?”
Thankfulness is knowing that I can have a hot shower at the end of a long day.
Thankfulness is being a part of a community that blesses us by trusting their children to our care every week.
Thankfulness is recognizing the opportunity to be a part of a bilingual Church family, and to know that God hears prayers in all languages.
Thankfulness is being part of a street outreach team that I can laugh with, and for having team mates who answer all my questions with unending patience and kindness; nurturing and loving me daily.
Thankfulness is having the ability to text and call and write to loved ones back home easily.
Thankfulness is the simple realization that I have a HOME and I will not go hungry this Thanksgiving.
My team transported one of our guests staying at our shelter to the Housing Authority today, and while we waited for her name to be called, I got to hear her plans for tomorrow. She started crying, because it’s been so long since she’s been able to cook any of her family’s traditional holiday foods. She’s mentioned numerous times to me how ecstatic she is to have a home again, and to cook her favorite meals for her and her son. This year, she bought some ingredients and is going to try to find a way to cook one of the pasta dishes anyway. I asked her to take a picture of the dish to show me next week and she promised that she would make enough food to share some with my team. Without a doubt, anything she makes will be eaten long before next week, but the offer was sincere.
Another one of our clients came back to the shelter today. She struggled to stay last time and so we had to extend the bed to someone else. But another space opened up, and she was willing to come back and give it another try. She came in wearing the cutest jacket and boots, and a crocheted hat. I complimented her hat and she brightened. “I have two more,” she told me, “Do you want one?” I smiled and told her that she would definitely need all three this winter with how bizarre the weather is estimated to be, and that I have some hats of my own. “Are you sure?” She asked, seeming a little concerned. “I’m sure,” I promised her.
I felt very humbled today, maybe in ways I haven’t experienced before. My team leader came into work at 5 am this morning to prepare his well renowned fried turkey. Our office was having a pre-Thanksgiving meal together and he made enough turkey to feed us, and enough for the guests at the shelter to have some with their lunch as well. Before we ate, there was no prayer offered due to the policies of non-religious non-profits. Even so, I felt something akin to a prayer hovering in the room, silent thanks offered to Heaven or just uttered for the food and for each other. And though I am able to eat comfortably daily, I felt a little guilty today specifically knowing that I could stuff myself full with plenty of food leftover.
It’s not enough to just be thankful. At the end of the day, I’m more than just thankful. I know that I have been blessed. I know that I have been given amazing opportunities and many beautiful people to share my experiences with. I’m more than just thankful, and certainly more than just thankful one day a year.
Thankfulness is waking up to a new day every morning. And within that gift of life is unlimited possibilities!
I pray that you all feel more than thankful and that your hearts are full of gratitude and love this holiday weekend.
I love you all very much!