Thanksgiving seems the perfect time to speak about the Grateful Heart, the mandala shown here was created in 2009 at the request of a remarkable man. He wanted a mandala he could gift to those who had given him so much, his second family, the Surgicenter Sweethearts.
A Grateful Heart is easy for me when life is going well. I have made it a practice to write down five things for which I am grateful each morning, a process suggested by Amanda Owen in her excellent book “The Power of Receiving”. I am more challenged in being grateful when things are not as I would like, my car breaks down, my dog needs surgery, the power goes out during Thanksgiving meal preparation, my loved ones struggle and suffer and I am powerless to help them. I suppose you could refer to me as having fair weather gratitude.
As I am pushed even farther away from what I enjoy, I find my gratitude almost impossible to access…and then I am humbled once again by the example of the man, who is so grateful, even in the depths of the abyss of dementia. In the almost four years that I have been watching his slow decline, he has maintained his gratitude. Now, when most words do not string together coherently, he still says, “Thank you”. Even when I correct him, suggesting, “Dad, please straighten your knees, stand up straight…”, he responds, “Thank you”.
It is clear to me that I have a tremendous opportunity at hand. I intend to embrace gratitude whenever possible, abandon grumbling, and trade in my angst for acceptance. Today, I have one more Thanksgiving with the man, who demonstrates gratitude with such grace and I am grateful, humbled and inspired.