Some years ago now, I was part of a discussion group in which I heard a comment which has remained with me. A woman in the group said she had heard a member of a Quaker group say that the most appropriate prayer we can offer is one of thankfulness.
Whether it be in the form of a prayer, or just in expressing our gratitude to someone, I have come to believe, over the years, that there is a lot of truth in what the Quaker person had said.
In her book, A little book of thank yous, Addie Johnson records expressions of thankfulness from herself and from other individuals.
From herself she writes: “Thank you to my friends, who bring me joy in common and exceptional ways; who are there when I need them; who put up with me when I’m a pill; who give me advice when I need it most; who remind me to listen and to understand; who challenge me and grow with me; who make me laugh until I cry; who give me hope when I’m disheartened and courage when I’m afraid. The gift of their friendship fulfills every wish for happiness.”
Johnson includes the following words from Rabbi Harold Kushner. Entitled “Thank you for every little thing,” he said, “Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted - a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.”
Johnson also includes a letter she wrote specifically to 2 friends who had a positive influence on her life. She wrote, “Dear Julie and Sammy: This might sound a bit crazy but bear with me. When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time out in the garden with my dad, and I remember very clearly when I grasped the concept of a perennial flower or plant.
“You only had to plant it once and it would go through its life cycle, seeming to die off in late fall, gone forever like the others in the garden, but when the ground warmed up and the April showers returned, it would spring up again by itself in the same spot, all fresh shoots and blossoms.
“These seemed like magic plants to me, coming back again and again, familiar and the same and yet new with with each cycle of the season.
“Your friendship feels like that to me, and with each passing year I know the roots are stronger, and I feel so lucky to watch and be a part of the cycles of your lives. I feel like somebody gave me the gift of sisters (which for an only child is quite a gift), and you guys mean more to me than you know. Thank you for being my perennial friends.
With so much love and respect, Addie.”
It is not hard to realize how great Julie and Sammy would feel getting such a letter. And we have the opportunity to express our thanks to those who have been an important part of our lives.
May it be so for us!
Harvie Barker is a local resident and writer of inspirational messages.