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Reflection

Gratitude – Thanksgiving 2009

Autumn leaves at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

It’s a rare thanksgiving season that I don’t hear my grandma’s oft-repeated admonition to us for any breach of good behavior.

“Don’t be such an ingrate.”

My mother’s corrections were much more behavior specific.

“Don’t be fresh.”

“Stop bickering.”

“Be polite when you ask.”

“I told you to stop jumping on the beds.”

Not Grandma … no matter what, it was always “Don’t be such an ingrate.”

She had a point, I now realize. An habitual spirit of gratitude would help cope with so many unkind, unjust, problematic, even puzzling situations and relationships in our personal and global lives. The gift of our lives, the gift of our families and friends, the gift of talents and skills and material resources, the gift of Earth and its treasures, the gift of faith — certainly we thank Providence for these.

But it seems a spirit of gratitude must also welcome and learn to encompass the whole of these gifts, the shadow as well as the light. Many of us face serious or not-so-serious health issues that inhibit our ability to live life as we’d like. Very few of us are free of the complication and sadness that are part and parcel of relationships in families and with friends. So many today are rightfully concerned about the adequacy of material resources. These personal concerns multiply in scope and seriousness when we look at global relationships and resources. The suffering of Earth and Earth’s people is immense at the present time.

Certainly, we’re not grateful for any personal or global suffering, for violence or hunger, nor for any mistreatment of people or creation. What we may need to be grateful for — in our all too real world of light and darkness — is this: as Providence would have it, we are called together to bring hope and healing to all creation. The Sisters of Providence are very grateful to be on this wonderful and often perplexing journey with you! Let’s remember, gratitude is not for sissies!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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