“I believe in the message of hope. I believe in hope in the midst of despair. I believe when we are despairing, God despairs with us. And that underpins hope, because if God suffers with us, there is meaning in that hopeless experience.
A compassionate God offers us a steady supply of hope, but we do not always avail ourselves of it. Our means to do that is through gratitude. Gratitude is what brings hope into the present moment. Hope may seem a distant promised land but gratitude gives us awareness of the manna we are eating in the wilderness at this very moment.”
These words were the opening of a paper I wrote for a ministry class some years ago but the words ring as true to me today. As we wander in the wilderness of Covid 19, there are many for whom gratitude may seem a stretch. Maybe you have lost a loved one and the virus has prevented having the closure of a celebration of life surrounded by friends and family. Maybe your job has been shut down and you have children to feed. Perhaps you are experiencing deep depression or panic attacks fueled by our present circumstances. How do you find gratitude within yourself in this present moment?
“In this present moment” is the key. In this present moment, ground yourself. Take some slow, deep breaths. Ask yourself: where are my feet? That may seem silly. Do it anyway. Recognize your feet as connected to solid ground (or imagine them connected if something prevents your putting them flat on the floor).
Ask yourself: where is my head? What thoughts am I feeding? Name at least one thing for which you are grateful. Continue searching if something doesn’t come immediately. You might look to the book of Psalms or some other reading that you find uplifting. I have sometimes turned to Psalm 42: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet again praise him for the help of his countenance.” If all else fails, think of someone you can do something for and be grateful for that motivation.
May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.
P.S. Bonus healthy snack from Hope’s Cafe: slice an apple and sprinkle cinnamon on it. Dip it in yogurt. 😊