As I mentioned last week, during the months of October and November, a number of Partners will be sharing their thoughts and experiences around gratitude and thanksgiving, an appropriate topic anytime but especially at this time of year. Jessica Boy, recently welcomed into partnership, shares with us “A smattering of thoughts on gratitude and thanksgiving”. Thank you, Jessica!
I came across a quote the other day that said, “the antidote to depression is gratitude”. While my purpose in that moment was to be aimlessly scrolling, this caught my attention and was enough to make me pause and wonder if it was really true? Was it that easy? Could this be an either-or equation? Was it not possible to hold both? As I have struggled with both depression and expressing gratitude in my life, I began to get curious… was a lack of gratitude in my life the cause of my depression? It had been my understanding that my depression had clouded my ability to see all that I could be grateful for, but this reframe might be a key to unlocking some perplexing life circumstances.
We have so much to be thankful for, don’t we? In my life, especially in my growing years, I never experienced suffering due to physical deprivation. My household cupboards always held food, my closets housed sufficient clothing, a solid roof existed over my head, and my walls kept the heat in during the winter. The doors of my childhood home locked and for a season of my life we even had a security system that we would accidentally trip now and then – causing all kinds of wonderful panic. All that helped us to know that the bad guys were “out there” and we were safe in the house. When we desired, we opened the doors to family and friends who graced our table for dinners and games, popcorn movie nights and more. Strangers were welcomed and in short time became friends. There was so much to be grateful for and much abundance to share.
So many good things, so many blessings, is it possible to miss the point of it all? I remember one specific Thanksgiving dinner many years ago, one where my mom flipped out as we were setting the table. She began to say something about having used 3 eggs to make her famous lemon meringue pie. Didn’t we know those three eggs could have fed three people a meal, and here we were wasting it on pie! She began to cry. I didn’t understand then what I was witnessing. For my teenage self, it was just pie, and it was going to feed 8 of us, or more! I tried to reason with her, telling her it was okay to use three eggs for pie. I recognize now that pie was a unique one, one that was seasoned liberally with complex PTSD from childhood wounds. Every lemon meringue pie I’ve eaten since has held a smattering of that unique flavour. Can my heart hold the abundance of emotion that encompasses that memory? Does that diminish the pie or make it that much more precious?
Is it not possible to hold all of this with gratitude and thanksgiving, even if it is with a little emotive depression? Can we hold the memories that shape us and acknowledge and recognize the role that suffering has in shaping a compassionate stance for pain? While simultaneously feeling gratitude for all the physical comforts of my world, emotional pain will inevitably slip its way in. Do we not find all those flavours represented in a Thanksgiving meal? We place bitter spices in sweet treats to enhance the components we want to emphasize. Is not life similar? Perhaps a little depression enhances the gratitude of a warm embrace – but may one not be at the expense of the other?
It is said that Jesus came to bring us life abundantly. Abundant in what? I wonder some days if it is the ability to hold all of our human emotion in tension. The container of community is that of love that makes it all possible. The absence of this love container is what makes it unbearable. May we all see our place in this complex system of love, containing all that makes us human and alive.
With joy and care,
Here is information on two upcoming SoulStream Events you will want to know about:
Online Mindfulness Workshop
Facilitator: David Johnson
Date: October 17 and November 7, 2020
An Introduction to Ignatian Prayer – Online Silent Retreat
Facilitators: Esther Hizsa, Sally Ringdahl
Dates: November 6-8, 2020