Choose Gratitude

So, today is Day 3 of the Thirty Days of Gratitude Challenge and it is amazing how I see opportunities for showing gratitude in my daily life. Last night, it was at our church during a family religious education (we have a fun approach to Sunday school at our parish where the entire family is involved.) As we were discussing the church’s saints, we were encouraged to share what in our lives we were grateful for and who in our lives we were grateful for…and anything else. Gratitude, our guide suggested, is a choice we can always make.

It was reassuring to hear my son express his gratitude for the life he has been blessed with and that he is thankful that his parents are still together. His best friend’s parents have been separated for over a year, and he has witnessed first hand the hurt that that situation has caused his friend. It was a wonderful opportunity to discuss marriages, relationships, why they don’t always work out, and what we can do to be supportive of those who are experiencing these kinds of challenges. It was a wonderful evening for which I am truly grateful.

Today’s gratitude intention is about a favorite food. I chose to use this as an inspiration to remind us how fortunate and blessed we are in this country to have such abundance of food that we can actually be selective about what we eat! So many folks throughout the world, even here in the US, do not have the opportunity to choose what they will eat next. Many only have simple choices at hand…many have next to nothing.

In the Catholic Church, we are presented with “rice bowls” to use during our Lenten season. Inside of these “bowls,” are calendars and menu suggestions for us to follow during our Lenten journey. The recipes come from all over the world and include short descriptions of how various cultures survive and what constitutes a typical meal. We are encouraged to make these simple dishes (usually vegetarian or with very little meat) and to donate the money saved on that meal to the charity that sponsors these “rice bowls.” Every year, our family uses these bowls to collect our spare change and to inspire new food choices. It helps to remind me of how much we have at hand here…and reminds me to be grateful for this life we have. It also serves to show us that even when families may not have a local grocery store, stocked to the ceiling with piles of food to choose from, it is one of the most basic human connections we share…to gather together and share food with one another.

So, I encourage you to take a moment and consider your favorite food…but more importantly, consider why it is your favorite. Perhaps it reminds you of childhood experiences with family long departed, or perhaps it has more recent relevance of a life experience.

For me, my favorite food is shrimp. Nothing fancy…just boiled, peel and eat. It is a childhood favorite and reminds me of my favorite place in the world…the beach. It connects me to my dad, who was always on the ready to share shrimp in all its forms with me, and to my mom…who always ordered the flounder (she doesn’t care for fish) even if it wasn’t on the menu. It now connects me to my husband and son…both of whom love shrimp as well and who are always ready to split a shrimp cocktail, or paella, with me. It is a simple food and I am grateful for it. Can’t pick just one? Choose to be grateful, then, for the abundance of food you have in your life.

Cheers and Namaste


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