Just wanted to share a collage my daughter made using a picture she had taken for her photography class and a paraphrase of a favorite passage of mine. The paraphrase is taken from Life of the Beloved, by Henri J. M. Nouwen, a Catholic priest who died in 1996. Nouwen wrote the book following a request from a secular friend, journalist Fred Bratman, to explain the spiritual life to a non-spiritual audience.
The particular passage that I love begins with the idea that every situation, good or bad, leaves us with a choice to be bitter or grateful.
“When an event turns out well, it could always have turned out better; when a problem is solved, there often emerges another in its place; when a relationship is restored, there is always the question: ‘For how long?’; when a wound is healed, there still can be some leftover pain. . . Where there is a reason for gratitude, there can always be found a reason for bitterness. It is here that we are faced with the freedom to make a decision. We can decide to be grateful or to be bitter.
[Nouwen describes the mentally handicapped residents he lives and works with as people who continually choose to be grateful and holds them up as models to follow.]
. . . When we keep claiming the light, we will find ourselves becoming more and more radiant. What fascinates me so much is that every time we decide to be grateful it will be easier to see new things to be grateful for. Gratitude begets gratitude, just as love begets love.”
November ushers in a season of sunless days in my state. I’ll keep this collage on hand for when the dreariness gets the upper hand.