But that's not really the point of what I want to get at right now. No, the heart of this blog post and tonight's homily message at Mass is gratitude. Fr. Sean illustrated this idea through a simple, true story - allow me to retell it here as best I can:
There was an ACE grad a few years ago who shared her story around graduation time - it was a story in which she started out by saying around November of her first year of teaching she almost quit. She called her mom on the phone, expressing her feelings of failure and despair. As their conversation drew to a close, her mom said, "I'm not hanging up this phone until you tell me one thing you're grateful for." Silence. And the mother repeated herself, "I'm not hanging up this phone until you tell me one thing you're grateful for." Silence, yet again. Finally, the ACE teacher told her mother that she was thankful for the school bell at the end of the school day. Her mom replied, "Well, that's a start."
The ACE teacher called her mom every night for awhile, each conversation ending with her mom insisting that she would not hang up the phone until she said something she was grateful for. Soon, the ACE teacher found gratitude for things like students raising their hands, a community member helping her out, and more. The conversations slowly dwindled down to the normal weekly occurrences, but the seed had been planted: Her mother had helped her cultivate a new disposition filled with gratitude, and her whole outlook had changed. In fact, years later, she described that time of her life as when her vocation was saved.
Pretty powerful stuff.
This was the perfect time to stop and think, how do I practice gratitude in my own life?
At the end of my school year in June, two students gifted me with gratitude journals (one of which I gave to my sister), and each day has a space (and sometimes a prompt) for me to record simple things for which I am grateful each day. It's a good habit to have. (Students seem to always know the best gifts...)