Today is also the day for giving heartfelt thanks for all our blessings. Lately I've been reminded that blessings can often be found in the middle of chaos, turmoil, and even pain. Hard to believe, isn't it?
A couple years ago I was browsing a small gift store at the beach. I'm always drawn to crosses so I walked right up to a display of wooden crosses, roughly covered in broken pieces of glass, and china and silverware. I can't say that they were works of art that you might see in a gallery, though I believe they'd fit right in. They looked better than elementary school art, but not a lot. The pieces of detritus did not appear to have any order. But I found myself glued to the spot by the door blocking traffic of incoming customers. The crosses spoke to me in the voice of the sacred. It wasn't the voice I imagine and fear, the clap of thunder and finger pointing of a scary God upset with one of my failings. No, this was that perfect, still quieting of the heart that says, "Be at peace. All is well."
I had to know more.
"Known as Katrina Crosses, they are handmade from china, pottery and glass picked up from a Long Beach, Mississippi neighborhood. The debris is from more than 50 homes swept away by storm surge and winds of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005."
No wonder the crosses spoke to me. The broken pieces of peoples' lives still had a voice. Dishes that maybe once sat on a family's Thanksgiving dinner table, or an heirloom platter that held a cake that celebrated someone's first (or 100th) birthday, or toasted someone's wedding, or a vase that held the flower arrangement from someone's funeral. They were all pieces that had history. Like the homes and people who lost everything in the storm, they were being recycled and renewed to a new purpose. In time - and yes, with a lot of work and tears - people of the Jersey shore and Long Island will be renewed. Perhaps some enterprising soul will comb the shoreline collecting the shattered and scattered pieces tossed in Sandy's wake and recycle them into art.
That's what gratitude does. It renews us. It recycles the challenges we face and turns them into blessings.
My prayer today is that gratitude will fill your heart and you will know peace.