Sharon Astyk lives in a region of upstate New York that has been hard hit by flooding. She marvels at the gratitude of her neighbors. Excerpt:
The first thing you need to know is that no one ever complains. I’ve seen a few people cry, mostly about lost pets, but what they say is “we’re so lucky.”
They say “We’re so lucky” as elders in their 80s and 90s put all the possessions of a lifetime out on the street to be hauled away as trash. One couple told me “We’re so lucky – we saved our wedding album and one picture of all the grandchildren together.” There wasn’t time for more before they evacuated. “We’re so lucky – the kids lost all their toys, but we’re staying with friends who have girls the same size as mine, so they have clothes and things…”
They say “We’re so lucky” as they contemplate the loss of their livelihoods. A friend told me “I was so lucky, we had stock up on the high shelves that didn’t get touched, and I was able to get that over to the shelter and start feeding people right away.” She lost her whole business.
Read the whole thing. It’ll make you ashamed to whine about little things. It did me.
This reminds me of how my sister Ruthie, who has late Stage IV lung cancer, approaches life. She’s grateful for everything. The goodness of no thing is lost on her. I have spent the last 18 months of her struggle hearing, one way or another, “I’m so lucky” from her. I’m thinking this resilient spirit might have a lot to do with why she has dramatically beat the odds for her kind of cancer, simply by staying alive as long as she has done. Most patients are gone within the first year.
Yesterday after church I was thumbing through a volume at the church bookstore. It contained the spiritual counsels of the Elder Paisios, a great 20th-century geronda from Mount Athos. In one of his recorded sayings, he explained that living simply and being thankful to God for every good thing is a wise strategy for coping with hard times, which are bound to come into everyone’s life sooner or later. One of his followers asked how people are supposed to live if food becomes too expensive. The Elder said (and I paraphrase), “Then we’ll live on bread and olives. The people who won’t survive are those who are used to having ten kinds of cheese on the table.”
Gratitude as a means to resilience. I need to practice that. I’m too much the Mr. Ten Kinds of Cheese on the Table for my own good.