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placeholder November 18, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 20   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
Importance of living a life of gratitude

Sister Margie Lavonis, CSC

When I think of November three things always come to mind. For Catholic Christians it has traditionally been a time when we pray for those who have died and give thanks for the ordinary saints, living and deceased, who have touched our lives. We also celebrate Thanksgiving, which is one of the favorite holidays of many Americans.

Every time I go to a wake or funeral — and I have been to many lately — and hear the beautiful comments made about the persons who died, I cannot help but wonder how many of those things were said to that person when he or she was alive?

A good friend of mine died. She was a very generous person who anticipated others' needs and was always willing to go the extra mile for others even when she may not have felt so well herself. As I visited the funeral home and heard all the nice things that people said, I hoped that she really knew how much she was loved and appreciated.

My fantasy was that she was looking down from heaven surprised at just how much people cared about her and wondered why they hadn't expressed how grateful they were for her when she was alive.

It is experiences such as these that continue to remind me of the importance of living a life of gratitude, thanking God for all of his gifts, especially for the people who have touched my life.

Often I have written about the people of Uganda, East Africa, who have the tradition of thanking others — and God — for everything that happens in their lives, from giving thanks for a new day to thanking others for listening to them or smiling at them. I heard about this custom many years ago from one of our Holy Cross sisters who ministers to the people in Uganda and it impressed me so much that I have never forgotten it.

The Ugandan people are a reminder to me of the importance of being a grateful person and to show and voice my love and appreciation of the people in my life. It is all too easy to take others and our blessings for granted.

November is a good time to think about and pray for all those people, living and dead, who have touched our lives. And for those who are still here, make an effort to tell them how much we appreciate them and thank God for how they have influenced our lives. Don't limit this expression of appreciation to family and friends. Do we thank those who clean our classroom or office, the policeman on the corner or the cashier in a store?

We also have a built-in opportunity during this time of the year when we celebrate Thanksgiving to reflect on the people we have been grateful for and resolve to let them know it either in word or action.

I truly believe that the world would be a much friendlier place if each of us would show our gratitude regularly, like the people from Uganda. And include Jesus for coming to save us.

(Holy Cross Sister Margie Lavonis works in communications for her religious community in Notre Dame, Ind.)

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