I easily thank people. I try to notice the time and energy they put into their work. I love to pester our maintenance men here at camp, but I also try to point out the value I see in their work. Thankfulness and gratitude have naturally grown out of the ways my life has blessed me.
At the closing worship of Summer 2018 for the resource staff, I played a song for them that I've grown to hold close (listen here: https://youtu.be/mUiU1-lAcWU). “Thank you for the sun, thank you for the moon, thank you for the stars at night and the darkness, too,” it says. Even as a person who loves the outdoors and tries to make it to the beach every day, rain or shine, I often forget to offer my gratitude to the earth.
In October, I was able to make it to part of Indigenous People’s Day at Great Spirit UMC, where many campers of our Huckleberry Family Camp attend. I was there for one of Mark Charles’s talks. He spoke about his journey learning to exist as a native to a place that doesn't recognize the legitimacy of his people’s sacrifice and suffering in context of this country. He went on to reflect on how that perspective informed his understanding of immigration policy in the present, but he framed all of that in a story of talking with an elder one day out on a walk. The elder pointed out to the land and reminded Charles of their duty to heal the earth no matter their status. Mark Charles went on to make more insightful points and to expand upon those ideas more fully, but I was struck by the way the story’s whole perspective shifted in recognition that the land pre-existed each of the people and would outlast all of us, too.
As I try to navigate how to best care for the world around me, I often prioritize my attention and resources towards those in need. I often thank first the hand that fed me. I usually most easily notice the person who gave their time to provide me with an experience or the resource I need. I am thankful for those people. I am filled with hope by the strength given to me by the care of others.
Now, I am trying to welcome the energy of the earth into my spirit each morning. I try to smile to the ocean when I see it each afternoon. I am being changed by the gratitude I am offering more generously and frequently to the universe, that it may cultivate wisdom and perspective within me.