One of the things that I am consistently blown away by is the capacity of some of my most marginalized friends to find little bits of gratitude in their lives. One such friend emphatically thanked God for the bit of decorative paper she found on the street to adorn a lamp. Another declared how grateful he was to have enough change to buy a present for a family member, even though he really needed a bar of soap.

I’ve written a fair amount about the various struggles I am a part of lately: Dion’s health and the numerous deaths at The Dale to name two. I am inspired by my Dale friends to really look beyond whatever challenges I might experience and discover beauty, in even the smallest of places. The following is far from an exhaustive list. As I began to contemplate what I am grateful for I realized that I could go on and on. Here’s my start:

  1. The hat that we use as an offering plate on Sundays at The Dale. We pass it so that people can even just touch it in acknowledgement of whatever they have to give, money or otherwise.
  2. Being able to watch so many interesting, talented, considerate kids in my neighbourhood grow into interesting, talented, considerate young adults.
  3. The buds on trees.
  4. The fact that Cate likes to listen to vinyl records in her room.
  5. Hugs. Period.
  6. Family.
  7. Dion finally getting an appointment with one of his MS doctors for important follow-up.
  8. For the way dancing in The Dale kitchen never gets old, especially to Ben E King’s Stand By Me.
  9. Having friends who are like family that we share dinner with every Wednesday night.
  10. The chance to talk with my Mom.
  11. Still having meals in our freezer that our community made when Dion was in hospital.
  12. The way my coffee maker sounds in the morning.
  13. Mail that isn’t bills.
  14. Friends who listen and who let me listen to them.
  15. That Joanna and I are welcome to sit for hours at the same coffee shop every Tuesday for our staff meeting.
  16. Second Harvest.
  17. That I get to be an Auntie.
  18. For the way The Dale is a community run by the community.

“Gratitude goes beyond the ‘mine’ and ‘thine’ and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.” Henri Nouwen