“May we learn to say ‘thank you’ to God and to one another. We teach children to do it, and then we forget to do it ourselves!”- Pope Francis
As summer draws to a close and the slow pace of the hot months speeds up to the uncontrolled insanity of the school year, I’ve had an opportunity to reflect on the past few months. And it’s been one heck of a summer. The past two months were filled with so many blessings and adventures that it is difficult to recall any prominent moment which stands out as the best.
In mid-July, I completed Christology with one of my favorite BC professors- the final class for the Masters in Theology and Ministry! I traveled to Eugene, Oregon to watch my friend Rachel compete in the 1500m at the Olympic Trials. Hiked Mt. Chocorua with STM friends. Spent a weekend at the Cape with my friend Courtney and some new friends from Boston. Watched the Red Sox behind the third base dugout with my friend Ginny. Traveled to Paris, Barcelona, and Rome with ALL OF MY SIBLINGS. (The adventure of a lifetime!) We saw the Pope. Toured way too many beautiful churches. Ate a ridiculous amount of Gelato. I worked at Foss Running Camp for two weeks. Chilled at Pawtuckaway Lake with Colby teammates. Spent time with my parents and grandparents.
In some ways, this summer offered a sense of timelessness and childlike freedom when there was very little structure and no major project due at school or work the next day. One activity faded into the next, with little thought to time management or planning. On the other hand, it also lent itself as a never ending stream of anticipation and hope for what was to come next. As a teacher, I have noticed that the two free months in the summer are guaranteed to be filled with some rest and relaxation. With passing time, however, I tend to experience an impulsive need to work, as I begin to anticipate the upcoming school year. Therefore, somewhere in the middle of the summer, I started to feel restless. There was so much going on in the surrounding environment, and so much more excitement lay ahead. On one hand, nothing seemed to happen fast enough, and yet simultaneously time was flying. As my head started spinning around in the chaos of summer, I wanted to savor the beautiful moments, awesome people, and amazing sights around me without worrying what was to come next. And so, in the midst of beauty and anxiety, adventure and stillness, I turned to gratitude.
Gratitude isn’t difficult; yet on a daily basis it is too easy to become blind to the simple gifts which we are given- even when we are surrounded by an overabundance of goodness. When life is rough, it is easy to be grateful for small matters: a hug from a friend, the next paycheck, a green light during rush hour, a compliment from a stranger. So when life seems smooth and all is good with the world, it can be more difficult to see the many blessings bestowed upon us. With our limited human minds, it is almost impossible to grasp the enormity of the grandeur in our surroundings. So when I take time to think about the intricate beautiful moments of each adventure, I am left with nothing but awe and a sense of humility that I am not the one responsible for the beauty of each one, but I am merely one small person who happened to be in the right place in the right time with perspective enough to glimpse it. And I am grateful for the opportunity to experience a moment of grace.
In conclusion, I would like to share one of my favorite prayers, by St. Teresa of Ávila, which highlights the ways in which we can accept our current condition with a lens of acceptance, hope, and most importantly, gratitude.
“May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.”