This month, I am considering the kind promise “I will appreciate blessings.”

Sometimes life seems dark and it’s hard to feel grateful. This includes the chaos that follows diagnosis of a serious health challenge and living with it afterward.

The ground seems to have shifted beneath your feet. Nothing looks familiar. “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” asks the ancient refugee psalmist. Where can you find light amidst the darkness?

As Fred Rogers said, “look for the helpers.” If I am not feeling well, chances are there are people taking care of me: family members, nurses, Doctors, cleaners, etc. Last time I was in the hospital, I tried to make a practice of saying thank you to each person who came into the room.

Challenges bring gifts, when we are strong enough (and in the mood) to see them. We gain understand and compassion for others in similar situations. We meet new people, learn new things, and discover more about ourselves. Those may not be lessons we would choose, but we find the golden nuggets hidden in the mud.

Even those of us who aren’t in crisis need help counting our blessings sometimes. I’m trying to find daily cues that remind me to be grateful.

When I wake up, may I give thanks that I am alive in a new day.
Each time I eat, may I be grateful for the food and all those who bring it to my table.
May I give thanks for all the people each day who bring gifts to my life: the family members I see, people who send me email, garbage truck drivers and maintenance workers.

Gratitude need not be limited to humans. I remember someone advising me to begin my work day by bowing with respect to my computer. Almost everything I do these days involves an electronic device.

Some people count steps. How lovely it would be to count moments of gratitude! Once you start recognizing them – even in difficult times – they tumble forward like puppies eager to be petted.

In your journal:

  • what challenges are you facing right now?
  • What gifts have you discovered in other dark times?
  • Who supports you when you are ill?
  • What cues might remind you to give thanks?