This past summer, my kids and
I decided to grow a garden. We
planned on growing pumpkins,
zucchini, corn, sunflowers
and carrots—planned being the key
word. By the end of August, our garden
consisted of a few carrots, some dead
zucchini and pumpkin plants, no corn
and some gigantic sunflowers.
The carrots never quite made it to
maturity because the kids kept feeding
them to their rabbits. I forgot to plant
the corn at the appropriate time. And
the other plants fell victim to a heat
wave and my brother-in-law’s puppy.
Granted, the sunflowers were over six
feet tall and beautiful but, from my perspective,
the garden was a failure. Instead
of reveling in the fun my kids and I had
working on the garden and what it did
produce, I lamented my dead plants.
If you asked my kids, though, they
would have called our garden a rousing
success. They had grown something
that fed their rabbits almost every
day—although I can’t see how the rabbits
enjoyed the carrots much, given
their size. And the kids giggled each
time they walked beneath the sunflowers
that towered over them.
We Are Blessed
Blessings are a lot like my garden, I
think. We often tend not to see them,
even when they are right in front of us.
Now I know that my life is very
blessed—a loving husband, three
healthy children, my health and many
other things. But to be honest, I can’t
remember the last time I stopped and
really took a moment to appreciate all
the blessings in my life. In fact, probably
the only time I do is when something
tragic or unfortunate reminds
me to do so.
Our faith grants us an abundance of
blessings. We are surrounded by the
love of Christ, offered forgiveness when
we have done wrong, invited to receive
the Body of Christ each week at Mass,
welcomed and supported by members
of our faith community and many others.
The question is, though, do we
take the time to recognize and rejoice
in those blessings?
Counting Our Blessings
This month, we celebrate Thanksgiving,
a holiday that’s all about recognizing
our blessings. Many of us
will probably ask for blessings on us
and our turkey dinner—without even
giving it a second thought. Here are
some other suggestions for ways in
which we can remind ourselves that
we are truly blessed:
Name your blessings. Sometimes
even though we may know we are
blessed, we don’t take the time to recognize
those blessings. Take some time
to name your blessings out loud. At
dinner tonight, have everyone in your
family name one way in which he or
she is blessed.
Accentuate the positive. Focus on
the blessings you do have rather than
those you don’t. For instance, I could
have basked in the shadow of those
gorgeous giant sunflowers, but instead
I focused on the things that didn’t grow.
Write it down. I recently reread
Sara Ban Breathnach’s book Simple
Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and
Joy (Warner Books). In the book, she
urges readers to keep a gratitude journal
where every day you write down
five things for which you are grateful.
I was surprised at how quickly I
started recognizing things for which I
Pass the word. If you consider
someone to be a blessing in your life, let
that person know. Tell your kids, parents,
siblings or friends how much they
mean to you and why.
Be a blessing. Try to do something
nice for someone today. It doesn’t have
to be something big. Bake some cookies,
give a card with a personal note or
a framed picture of you and the recipient,
or make a CD of some favorite
songs. You’d be surprised how much
such blessings will be appreciated.
Recently, I was having a particularly
bad week and my friend dropped off
dinner and dessert for my whole family.
Not only was it a thoughtful gesture,
but it saved me from having to cook.
And my family and I had a wonderful
meal for which we gave thanks!
Next Month: And a Child Shall Lead Them