By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
I have a daily ritual, and it involves getting my coffee in the morning, complete with a dab of coconut oil in it, sitting down, opening up my journal, and writing down five things for which I am grateful. If my journals are left behind for any who might be interested in reading the record of my life, most often the early-morning “AM Grats” listing is going to start out with number one being coffee, and number two being sun. Anyone who is from the “Great Northwet” understands the importance of the first two, trivial and shallow as they may seem. They just get my gratitude juices flowing, and then I move into weightier matters like Steve (my husband), my salvation, my family, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, being an American woman, Juice Plus, or some specific thing that has seemed as though it was specially delivered as a tender grace from Abba Father. Being able to do Athens Now as a later-in-life career for which I had no training is one of my “grats” as well, even though there are moments when I wonder, “Why did we decide to do this again?” That often hits on Publication Day, has been pushed aside for the last seven years, and I almost always sigh with amazement and humble satisfaction at having the team and the opportunity to bring “information and inspiration” to the Tennessee Valley. Through the miracle of online publishing, we are also now read all over the world.
Developing an attitude of “guerilla gratitude” is crucial in successfully shooting the rapids of contemporary life because now, more than I can ever remember, we are surrounded by bitter, fearful people. These folks look at people, who are grateful to be alive, and are committed to wrestling life to the ground until their last breath as being more than wack-a-doodle. How can it be for some that it is an amazing time to be alive, while others pray for death to take them? I understand that illness, chronic pain, loss, death, divorce, broken relationships, abuse of all kinds, and the worst life slings at us can make it challenging beyond belief, and I understand it from experience. However, I have met many who are smack dab in the middle of the very things described above, and they still can say, “It is well with my soul.”
I think this is most dramatically exhibited in our senior care facilities, and we have some excellent ones here in Limestone County. I get the chance to interview residents and tell you their stories, which are often told through the oddly beautifying glow of gratitude emanating out of a frail and sometimes pain-wracked body. I think what gets me the most is when the frail still choose to use their limited energy to help others.
One such permanent resident at the Limestone Health Facility leads an abundant life using her walker, takes a long stroll down the many halls in order to get exercise, and makes sure that her friend is in tow. They stop and visit folks along the way, and she expresses affection and concern for all that she meets. I know from having previously interviewed her that the loss of her husband of 64 years knocked her for a loop, but she has landed on her feet with the help of her walker, her faith, her family, and the facility, and she is a “gratitude guerilla.” Another lost a child 55 years ago, and the grit with which she could say, “All things work together for good,” made a lump form in my throat. She knows where she’s been, she knows where she’s going, and her story, as common as she feels that it is, has strength in it for all who will listen.
What a time to be alive! The good, the bad and the ugly are all friends in different disguises, waiting to be discovered and made into a “documentary,” that if heeded will strengthen your soul and spirit, and nourish those around you long after you are gone.