(Brooke’s generosity Blog)
May 3, 2020

“This is the day that God has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

“In everything with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

This seems about the time for people, including me, to start grumbling. There is a certain amount of adrenaline and sheer fear that propels us in the first weeks of a crisis. COVID-19 will be with us for a long time. Right about now I begin to get a bit down. It is not a complaint such as, “Are we there yet?!” from the back seat on the way to a summer vacation. (Will we even have vacations this summer? Maybe, or maybe not.)

This is the kind of ‘down’ that perceives a long period of uncertainty in the future. We like to control things. We do not like it when we feel helpless. Is there anyone NOT feeling helpless these days?

I used to think that my saddest moments were when I was sharing time with a person who was in a bad way. Suicidal, at the end of life, pre-operative for a major operation, or having lost a loved one and not knowing what to do. They needed powerful words of comfort. They needed assurance that God was somehow, someway in the midst of this mess called life.

Now I cannot hold that hand or touch the forehead of the dying person and give a final blessing, “Lord, let your beloved servant depart in peace, for her (his/their) eyes have seen Thy salvation, a hope for all people.” Now I cannot do that. I can speak on the phone, say a prayer on zoom, send that most impersonal of communications, an ‘email’ to a person with as much hope and peace packed into it as I can manage.

I am finding that I can connect with people in all sorts of situations, even today, with ‘gratitude.’ I love the works of the old mystic Meister Eckhardt who lived between 1260–and 1328 CE. Meister (if I am permitted to use his first name) asserted that “if the only prayer you can make is ‘thank you,’ that will suffice.” We do what we can to help. It is what we do.

My nephew’s daughter Pollyanna, lives with her brother Hugo in a house in London UK. She has been watching our livestreaming worship in the afternoons from her home. When she was born and the unusual name of “Pollyanna” was bestowed upon her at her baptism, Linda bought her a book. The book was Pollyanna. It is a 1913 novel by American author Eleanor H. Porter and is considered a classic of children’s literature. Some will remember Hayley Mills starring in the Disney movie “Pollyanna” in 1960.

In the book and movie Pollyanna was the daughter of missionaries. She had expected a doll in the Christmas missionary barrel, but nothing arrived except a set of crutches. Obviously, she was disappointed. But her father told her to begin every sentence with “I’m glad that…” This game taught her to see the sunny side of things even in tough times.

After her parents die, eleven-year-old Pollyanna goes to live with her crotchety aunt, who takes her out of ‘duty’ not ‘love.’ But soon Pollyanna’s cheerful and optimistic attitude thaws even her aunt’s wintry spirit.

An example of the Glad Game: when Aunt Polly puts her in a stuffy and bare attic room, she exults at the beautiful view from the high window. When her aunt punishes Pollyanna for being late to dinner by sentencing her to a meal of bread and milk in the kitchen, she thanks her rapturously because she likes bread and milk.

Pollyanna’s robust optimism is tested when she is struck by a car and loses the use of her legs. Her spirits dive when she is told that she may be paralyzed. After that she lies in bed unable to find anything to be glad about. In response the townspeople visit her to tell Pollyanna how much her optimistic spirit changed them. Pollyanna decides she can still be glad that she at least has had her legs. Eventually she walks again, the gift of time, medicine, and an optimistic spirit.

There is a lot to moan about these days. There is a lot to grieve with a growing number of cases and rising death toll and uncertainty about our economy and our future. Yet, there are many things to give thanks for.

I am glad that we have a yard that has rich wildlife, two foxes, with eight kits frolicking around the trees. (The squirrels are not amused.) Regular visits from a hawk, many birds and a diminishing population of bunnies.

I am glad that we have safe access to food and medical care if needed.

I am glad that I saw the dentist in December, and I had a good check-up. (I still brush and floss daily.)

I am grateful for the staff at Knox; we manage to meet on zoom and enjoy the amazing gifts that each person brings to this shared ministry. We are blessed to serve.

I am grateful for God’s ever-faithful love.

I am grateful for a family that cares for me, even when I am grumpy or down.

I am grateful… Wow! This is a great game! I am feeling better already.

You can play too. Take some time to play the Glad Game of gratitude to God. See what happens!

In the midst of life’s challenges, may we find a glad and grateful spirit. May we daily find blessings to count. May we find ways to share our gifts with others. May we find the grace to accept gifts from others. May each day give an opportunity to say Thank-you.