One of them, realizing that he had been cured,
came back praising God in a loud voice.
My thirteenth birthday approached when my sister Rita, who was in college at the time, asked what I would like as a gift. When I told my her that I would like a scrapbook, she found just the right one for me. I loved my scrapbook and determined that I would use it well. After serious reflection, I remembered our mom’s photo albums. Her pictures dated back to her own childhood, our parents’ courtship, their marriage, our births and on to the most recent birthday. I asked my mom if I could have a few pictures to start my own collection of memories. Over the next few years, I added items that were important to me, like confirmation and graduation cards, holy cards from family funerals and a few medals the nuns had given me for jobs well done at school. I even included copies of some poetry I had written. Though I eventually ran out of pages, I continued to store my treasures in the back of the book. Of these treasures, I most valued the personal messages I received over the years in greeting cards, letters and notes.
Though for decades my scrapbook has been too full to hold another bit of paper, I continue to save letters, notes and cards in a dresser drawer. Occasionally, I am drawn to that drawer for no particular reason. I look through my mementos once again, telling myself that I have saved each one for a very good reason. These messages have spoken love to me since the day I received them. Though I find myself grateful beyond words, I know that I must never be grateful beyond two extremely powerful words: Thank you!
My appreciation for gratitude is underscored by the familiar tale of the ten lepers who begged Jesus to have pity on them. Jesus looked upon them and felt their pain as only Jesus could. Afterward, Jesus sent them off to show themselves to the priests of the temple. On the way, one leper realized he was cured. Though the others went on, this man raced back, fell at Jesus’ feet and worshipped him. I have no doubt that the grateful leper treasured this encounter for the rest of his days, not in a scrapbook or a dresser drawer, but deep within his heart.
How fortunate we are to have the capacity to love one another and to be grateful for that love. Those who offer kindness are humbled by the impact of their good deeds. Those who offer thanks take those good deeds to heart and, perhaps, do the same for someone else.
Loving God, thank you for the gift of this life and for empowering us to enrich this life with our kindness and gratitude toward one another. There is no better way for us to offer you thanks than to imitate your love for us.
©2014 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved