Friday, January 05, 2007

Gratitude and Impatience

Since gratitude and patience are thought to be two virtues/positive attributes, it may seem strange to have gratitude and impatience together in a post title. Still, in this continuation of "what's changed in the last 7 months," these are two qualities I have cultivated in these months. I can't say that these additional thoughts came to me while washing dishes, but here they are.

Impatience first. While patience is the recognized virtue, impatience in the face of injustice or wrongdoing is a also an important virtue. Since my diagnosis, I just don't feel all that patient with nonsense, with cruelty, wrongheaded thinking, people treating each other badly.

So, this is where I get political. A year ago, I would have held my tongue in a "public" forum unless asked to speak, but now I don't have time or patience to suffer injustice. Tuesday, the Massachusetts legislature, sitting in Constitutional Convention, voted to put marriage equality on the ballot in 2008. I wept when I read of their actions, because Patty and I have been "married in Massachusetts" since June, 2004. I am deeply angered that anyone would want to take away from us (or would have denied it in the first place) the right to legal recognition of our relationship, and the benefits that society and the government have chosen to bestow on those in a legally recognized relationship. Their action doesn't finally put this proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot, as it must be passed by another session of the legislature. So, in the last day, I have contemplated personally visiting each of the 62 legislators who voted to move this proposed constitutional amendment on, and ask them to vote differently next time. And, if you aren't already familiar with this issue, and think that people should always have a right to vote on proposed constitutional amendments, ask yourself whether or not you think constitutional amendments should be used to take away the rights of any minority group. In addition, there's a reason why the legislature votes first. I'm going to ask those representatives to represent me and my family in their vote. I'm not naive, and I do realize that this is a hotly contested issue across the country, but right now, I want to say that this affects me, my life, my spouse, my children, and it hurts us.

As you can see, I feel impatient. I don't have 20-30 years, it seems, for society to get this right...

A postscript to this is that I am still working on my patience as a parent. That's a tough attribute to develop and maintain in parenting, I think.

Gratitude is a quality I've worked to develop all of my life. I try to remember to thank and appreciate those who have reached out to me, who have gifted me in some way. And, I keep working to do a still-better job of expressing my gratitude, to people in my life, and to God. I have felt immense gratitude for the gift of life in these past 7 months. I am grateful to God for my existence, and grateful to my parents for the gift of life made manifest. And I am grateful to all those souls I have met during my life, my fellow journeyers and teachers

I remember that when Patty and I first got together, 16 1/2 years ago, we developed a habit of sitting in silent grace before sharing a meal. After weeks of doing this, I realized that I felt immense gratitude for my job, my work, my profession. This may seem like an "of course" sort of moment, but I hadn't realized the depth of my gratitude until then. I certainly hadn't found the words to give thanks for a job I love.

As I was working on this post, I found an email from my friend Sandy, who shared this thought from her November calendar: Gratitude. More aware of what you have than what you don't. Recognizing the treasure in the simple - a child's hug, fertile soil, a golden sunset. Relishing in the comfort of the common - a warm bed, a hot meal, a clean shirt - Max Lucado

Those concrete, body comfort moments are an important piece of feeling gratitude, I think. Max Lucado has it right; the warm, familiar bed, comforting surroundings, loving presence, creature comforts attended to. More aware of what you have than what you don't. That's where I aim to be.


Anonymous said...

Hi Lynne,

I just had to mention that those 'creature comforts' that Max Lucado refers to are some of the things that really stand out during hard times. When my mom has gone for surgery (she had a whipple 5 years ago) and for other hospital visits, I really notice and enjoy a hot cup of coffee, a walk in the fresh air, comfortable clothes, the warmth of someone's hand. I think people tend to downplay the importance of these things, when really they are the foundation of the other pleasures...and certainly something to be immensely grateful for.

My best to you and your family (and I think the legislators could use a dose of your reality).

Anonymous said...

yes, took until I turned fifty ( a few years ago) really realize that some of the "omg..I have to's" really can wait. The laundry is always is the dust...but the kids grow up and move on. I have stopped, closed my eyes and listened on many occaisions to the "noise" that I would have shushed a few years ago...because I savor the happy sounds of a full house. Instead of grumbling and looking down at the path on the way to the barn...thinking of all the other "to do's" on my list....I now look UP...breathe deeply....have even walked it with my eyes closed listen to the sounds of...the breeze...the trees, the animals ...and said a silent prayer for it all. The kids and I play a little "mental game" occaisionally...and pretend we don't live here...we are only vacationing...and we say.."Don't ya wish you lived here all year long? peaceful...lots of animals...a pool...AC...I love this place"...I hope that they figure these "gratitude" issues out way before they turn fifty.
...and I agree...Whenever the kids and I hear about this "arguement" about whether or not they "should allow" same sex marriage on the news...we all sigh and agree....we are tired of hearing about their efforts to remove something so right ! They need to move on to REAL issues. Why would they try to legislate love and marriage?? Why are they so threatened??It is indeed maddening!

noone said...

Hi Lynne,
As it happens, I just watched the documentary Escape to Canada the other night on tv. My brother and his partner married in Toronto in May, 2006 after nearly 10 years together. Our Federal Government tried to revisit the issue late in 2006 but it met with a resounding thud and all is still good in Canada on this issue. I hope that Massachusetts experiences the same. The documentary showed what the State had done, against the U.S. Federal Government and I hope they keep to it too. You don't need the added stress of this too. {Hug}

As for Gratitude, since 2000 I've been in that mindset as well. The small comforts mean a lot and family and friends mean the most. Everything else is gravy. Course, my career went into the toilet but then, I never should have been in that field in the first place. So now I'm hoping to start putting a foot forward to what I really want to do with my life. So you just keep doing what you're doing and let that impatience fly and speak up! You deserve and need to be heard.

awilliams said...

an attitude of gratitude- that's something that i have tried to cultivate for the past 25 years or so- it makes one feel so warm and fuzzy inside when the littlest things like a fresh baked batch of chocolate chip cookies, or a steaming hot mug of excellent hot chocolate, or a beautiful sunset over the lake, or a big, fat, full moon over the water, or a hearty hug from a child, things like that, can make your heart smile !!!! that's when life starts to feel so good to me !!!!! one of the best things AA ever taught me was to make a gratitude list when you are feeling crappy- it just works !!!!! cause everybody has something to feel grateful about !!!! thanks for your thoughts!!!!

Jane's Family said...

From one blogger to another, thanks for sharing your innermost thoughts. Cancer does suck, but the friendship that comes from it is priceless. I found you link on Leroy Sievers' blog which I read almost daily. You have a wonderful blog. Bloggin' to me also is so therapeutic. My blog is
Again, you have a great blog.

Anonymous said...

Lynne, I just want you to know that I've been thinking of you and feel a deep sense of love and gratitude for you and all you are giving right now. Charli has been struggling with issues of death, what it means, and of course then life. Its been interesting, especially given my "spiritually atheistic" way of living and looking at the world. She often asks about you, how you are and whether you will die. Its been lovely to just talk with her about what it means to really live, what it means to be afraid, what it means to live life being afraid of dying, and what it means to live with all of life's conflicts. I speak very generally about your cancer with her, and yet you've given her an invaluable opportunity to just talk about stuff none of us wants to talk about or think about, but we do.

I love you and love that I'm with you into this new year.


Carl said...

I hope you never stop being impatient for justice, Lynne. You and Patty are pioneers, and deserve the gratitude of all of us for standing up and being who you are.

Thanks, too, for your thoughtful comments about your cancer experiences.

"A Pastor's Cancer Diary"