Wednesday, May 18, 2022


This pandemic, this past two-plus years of unimaginable, worldwide catastrophe, have brought gratitude into sharp focus for me.

There are two steps to experiencing true gratitude. The first is appreciating the blessing. The second is understanding—totally accepting—the impermanence of it. It’s one thing to feel blessed while you’re enjoying the gift, especially if you fully expect it to continue. It’s another thing to still feel the gratitude after the blessing ends—which they're bound to do…except one.

Maori fishhook / gratitude symbol
IMAGE: Vassil, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

I feel grateful today for my life. Not only for the gift it is right now, but for there being no known end to it. But what if I learned tomorrow that I have incurable cancer and that my life will be ending quite soon? Would I still feel grateful for the very, very fine life I’ve already lived?

As a hospice volunteer for the past eight years, I’ve been afforded quite an intimate view into the process of dying. Far more important, though, has been the view these beautiful people have gifted me of the process of living. Not one has said—or acted like—they’ve felt cheated by the prospect of death.

So, as my days wane I thank God for my life—both the promise of its continuing (the blessing that always ends) and the gift of its having been (the blessing that never does).


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