Thanksgiving Essay Winners
The coronavirus has put a different spin on my life and my perceptions. It has brought with it limitations, fear, boundaries, missed opportunities, reservations, feelings of lack, and caution. It has created a vastly different way to experience life. One where gratitude seeks to find the good in this devastating time.
But, it has also brought an awareness of what is important- what should be valued and what should be appreciated. It has instilled in me a real sense of gratitude. I have done gratitude lists off and on over the years. But this time when I started my list, it was a surprise that I found I was grateful and appreciative for things that serve as protectors and connectors. Of course, I am grateful for my God and my loved ones (both human and animal). But, I am grateful for my home which has served as a sanctuary- a shelter that has created protection. I am grateful for the telephone, computer and television. Yes, even social media. All of these have been a window to the world. They have opened up my life so that I can cope better, be entertained, communicate, laugh, cry openly, grow spiritually, exercise, meditate, learn, be creative, enhance my awareness, and share with others.
I guess I have to also admit that I feel gratitude for the coronavirus’s effect on my life. Little things that were overlooked are now a focal point. It has fine-tuned my coping skills. It has slowed down my world. It has caused me to organize and do the projects that have been on hold. I no longer have the excuse of being too busy to tackle a project. It has caused me to put myself first- to improve my eating habits, exercise, and meditate. Causing me also to continue cherishing my friends and family and finding different ways to show it. It has even caused me to embrace the end of my life and feel comfortable with it. (No, it is not ending anytime soon.)
By finding gratitude, during this time, I am also finding peace.
"Thank you, I say!"
I returned to the USA from a trip to Italy at the very end of November, 2019. I had an air of disappointment since I was unable to visit with some dear friends because they were unusually not up to par struggling with bouts of sluggishness and difficulty breathing. Little did we know they were afflicted with Covid-19. Just a few short weeks later the Coronavirus took over Italy and I was so grateful to be back on my turf knowing God’s ever-powerful protection had been over me.
At the beginning of January 2020 there were many who still had not heard of the virus; lest fathom that a pandemic would envelop us globally. I for one had a great sense of excitement since I had been asked to give a Lenten retreat to the Hispanic community at a parish in my archdiocese. I plunged into prayer asking God to bless the participants who would attend and to put in my heart the words they needed to hear only to have the retreat canceled the night before since we were officially pronounced on lockdown. Over 150 people registered for the event and although I felt robbed of the opportunity to evangelize I was grateful that those prayers had been answered and we were spared from being in harm’s way since social distancing was not yet being practiced.
As we continued to learn more about the dangers of Covid-19 and the precautions we should take to protect ourselves sadness came over me since my place of worship was closed. Everything else was feasible like purchasing groceries on-line, ordering take-out via curbside service, entertaining myself with jig-saw puzzles, etc. I watched Mass daily on television, heard uplifting homilies and receive spiritual Communion but began to feel that I was not doing anything to serve brothers and sisters who did not have the commodities I did. I found out about a food kitchen in Atlanta who needed volunteers to make sandwiches from home, take them to a local contact in my county early Friday morning who in turn would make the delivery to the soup kitchen. For months I prepared 150 sandwiches each Thursday – praying over each one, asking God to protect and bless the person who was going to enjoy it. A tremendous sense of gratitude came upon me for the opportunity of working in God’s vineyard restrictions and all.
This pandemic has been hard for all but has taken me to another level of gratitude with a deep desire to try my best to love others the way I am loved by God.