Concentrating on Gratitude

I volunteered in Metropolitan Ministries holiday tent today, to help families in need get food to have a nice Thanksgiving dinner. I volunteered last year around Thanksgiving too, and here are some of of the details of the event and my thoughts about that experience.

This year, instead of being a volunteer shopper, I was mostly a runner: someone who took the clients from the check-in counter to a shopper. Every time I met someone new, I shared my smile with them and let them know it was nice to meet them. Before sending them off with their volunteer shopper, I looked them in the eye and wished them a happy Thanksgiving.

Most of the clients reciprocated with a smile back. Some looked a bit downtrodden. Some seemed ashamed to be there. To those people, I tried to send positive energy with my gaze: “You are welcome here,” “I’m glad you took advantage of this wonderful resource, instead of going without,” “I’m sorry you had to walk so many blocks in rainy weather just to get here.”

I think finishing Amanda Palmer‘s The Art of Asking last night helped me be mindful that my gaze, my smile, and my energy can be a gift to others.

The Metropolitan Ministries holiday tent is a huge area that is permeated with gratitude. It was very nice to be wrapped in that atmosphere of gratitude and giving.

And it was nice to concentrate on those really positive things. Gratitude, giving: these are some of the things that renew my sense that humanity is good. With the announcement Michael Brown’s grand jury verdict in Ferguson, MO last night, my faith in humanity took a blow.

I can’t say that it has rebounded, it won’t completely, but I know there is good in this world. I see it reflected in so many faces when I look around. And the reflection is spreading to dark corners, even though the light hasn’t completely overcome the dark yet. Books like Amanda Palmer’s and Brené Brown’s are helping to spread a message of love, honesty, vulnerability.

In times like these, when justice seems like a fictional idea, we need to remember those messages of love and vulnerability. We need to remember that even though there are a lot of fucked up things in this world, there is still incredible beauty. It seems to me that there are more and more people who see the beauty, but who are also changing the messed up things.

I’m grateful for those people, and I will concentrate on them.

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