There’s an old blind man who hangs out each morning in Union Station, calling “Good morning!” to the commuters as they stream past. I do not believe he’s homeless, but he’s definitely poor. People often stop to talk to him, to buy him breakfast, to give him a hug (he’s a big hugger), and to hear him sing the praises of the Lord. He loves to say, “The Lord is so good to me,” and then he laughs and says it again, and pats your hand and gives you another hug. His name is John.
I’ve known John for a little over a year now, and I’m slowly learning from his example what gratitude looks like.
And I am discovering that joy springs from gratitude, and that joy overflows and spills into the lives of all who come anywhere near it. Blind John, who feels his way through Union Station with a white cane, who learns to recognize his friends by the sound of their voice, brings light into the life of every person who knows him.
Things are never what they seem. To see us from the outside, John has nothing–aside from the clothes on his back, the white cane, and the baseball cap he always wears. I, on the other hand, have everything we’re told a person should have. Yet John spends his days smiling and thanking God for all the blessings in his life, from friends stopping by to say hello to a warm breakfast provided by a stranger. And how many days do I forget to say “thank you!” for the everything I have?
I woke up this morning alive; more than alive, healthy. Thank you!
I made the bus this morning and even got a seat. Thank you!
I have clothes to wear. Food to eat. Thank you!
I have a good job that provides a steady paycheck. Thank you!
I have a roof over my head. A car. “The basics” that so many people lack. Thank you!
I had a text message from my aunt when I woke up, just a little sign that I’m loved. Thank you!
I got to spend yesterday evening with a dear friend. Thank you!
I saw John this morning in Union Station and got to spend a few moments in conversation with him. Thank you!
And at noon today I will get to go to Mass, where I will receive YOU in Communion. Thank you!
I could (and should) go on and on and on.
Instead, most days I kneel before the Lord and say, “God, please give me ______ and ______ and _______ and maybe also _______ (though I can wait a while for that and will live without it if I must).” Not that we shouldn’t present our needs to the Lord, of course. Far from it, He longs for us to do that. But maybe I should first and foremost, at every moment, in all things … give thanks.