Reading from Luke 17:17

“Ten were cleaned, were they not? Where are the other nine?”

Question: Which one do we want to be?? The other nine? Or the One?

Reflections on gratitude amidst an unusual year 2020

Finding gratitude in the middle of a pandemic that has brought upheaval, uncertainty, and a trail of grief throughout our world can be daunting. I looked back and it struck me how much has changed in just a year. I find my sense of gratitude for 2020 extends outward, beyond the core of the norm. As I pondered what I’m thankful for in 2020, I realized that many of the things we have previously taken for granted are what are fortifying us now. And even during a year that has profoundly altered our lives, I have much to be grateful for.

I am immensely grateful for the way the scientific community has come together on a global scale to find medical solutions to combat COVID-19. 

We have frontline health care workers. I appreciate how they don’t see lines of division – whether it be politics, race, religion, or economic status. What they see are many people, sick with a highly contagious virus, in need of a high level of care. I’m so grateful for the nurses and providers who get up, suit up, and selflessly care for these patients at great risk to themselves each and every day.

This time of crisis has forced us to find new ways of living safely, which has inspired creativity. It is gratifying to witness so many people leaning into the discomfort of uncertainty to get creative and discover innovative solutions. A journey that some of us, have yet to explore more and find new ways. Being able to add to the Mass experience, while attending Mass from our homes has given me a knee jerk of the privilege we had to be in God’s presence in the Eucharist, and some of us did not make much of it.

Companies and organizations have stepped up by offering contactless services. The digital transformation that occurred across every contact point in this journey, over just a matter of months is admirable. I’m also very thankful, both personally and professionally, for the ability to work remotely during this time. We pivoted to a remote work model early in the pandemic, and we’ve discovered the flexibility reduces stress and drives innovation and remain productive. As an organization, we also found ways of keeping our staff engaged in the services we provide, as we knew that our help was needed more than ever, while keeping them safe, secure and in compliance with current situations. Peoples’ lives are comprised of a network of communities – from family, friends and neighborhoods to the workplace, schools and beyond. I sense that now, more than ever, community has taken on a new meaning for all of us. I am deeply grateful for community. My work community, has really banded together this year to support one another. Activities like virtual happy hours and sharing recipes to satisfy our cravings, help keep things light during these difficult times. I appreciate the teachers in our school communities even more, as they’ve really had to step up and adapt to educating our children virtually with very little preparation. Despite the hardships and restrictions imposed by the pandemic, I’m happy to see people being a bit more kind to one another. You never know what struggles another person is dealing with, and just one small act of kindness can make a world of difference.

I recently learned that November 13th was World Kindness Day, a day to remind us that kindness is a powerful tool to create better communities. I strongly believe people can connect through kindness, and compassion for one another is what binds us all together. And what better time than 2021 to practice kindness?

This rollercoaster of a year has given me a new perspective. Things that used to be a “big deal” don’t carry the weight they did a year ago. Noticing the little things that I used to take for granted – like taking a walk on a beautiful afternoon – admiring God’s creation has enhanced my spirits more. While at times it may seem as if the world is heading downhill, I welcome the positive spirit of thankfulness and hope. It is so important to maintain hope that we will emerge from this traumatic time stronger than before.

It’s Thankful Thursday, Be grateful and enjoy every moment of this precious day!

Maggie Vargas, SCNA