Friday, November 2, 2012

Unhindered Gratitude

At a denominational event several years ago, a woman I'd never met saw my nametag, approached, spoke my name, and hugged me tight. Then, through tears, she explained -- it was my name that drew her, because someone with my family name had shared faith and love with someone in her family or other such connection, and she wanted to say "thank you."

I embraced her in those unexpected and precious moments. The name wasn't even mine until I married into it. I had no part in the story she told. And, best I can tell, she was talking about something that happened nearly one hundred years ago. But the expression of her gratitude was not going to be hindered by such details.

As I remember that brief experience, I find myself shaped by it still, and am reminded:
  • Be grateful. Gratitude is recognition of a gift as a gift -- something given not from obligation, but springing from good will. Cultivating genuine gratitude combats entitlement and pride, and instead brings about joyful humility.
  • Leave a legacy. This woman's story is not just her own; it has the imprints of so many more throughout the years -- a few she knows, many she doesn't. A kindness shown a hundred years ago continues to matter in many lives, including now in my own.
  • Remember the story. The story she told me on that day must have been told many times before, passed on from generation to generation as loved ones have talked together about the people and events who have been important to them. Even awesome stories are easily lost without such telling -- and that is a great loss indeed.
  • Rejoice together. "Joy shared is joy multiplied." When she shared her story with even me as a stranger, she gave expression to her joy. And when I heard it, her joy was contagious. Even now, over three years later, I smile at the memory.

No comments: