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Can We be Thankful?

Can We be Thankful?

November 13, 2020

I recently spoke to a group of graduating high school seniors who would be going off to college for the first time.  They would be packing with them some of their favorite items - books, games and even clothes. 

I asked them to consider packing a few more items.  In particular, one item I try and take with me everywhere I go – Thankfulness.

You see, the world would suggest we be thankful when things are going well.  But the Pillar of Thankfulness is to be thankful for what we learn in adversity.  Some of our best lessons are learned here. 

I will tell you a quick story.

I was just cut by the Boston Celtics and waiting to see where I would go next.  One week later I was in Guadalajara, Spain.  It was mid-August and super hot!  I was alone and couldn’t really speak the language.  After two straight weeks of two adays, I was ready for my first day off.

I drove into Madrid to do some sightseeing and stumbled upon a comfy little café to grab some lunch.  After eating (what would become my favorite dish) a big plate of paella, I would continue exploring all the sights of the city.  Several hours later I made my way back to the street where I had parked my car.  It wasn’t there.  Stolen?  I didn’t know.

Later I learned I had parked my car in a bus loading zone.  It would be the equivalent of parking your car in the middle of Times Square.  So, if you’re still wondering, it was towed. 

My first thought was how am I going to get back home to my apartment?  I was lucky enough to catch the last train for the evening leaving Madrid.  The hour train ride gave me a lot of time to think.  How would I explain this to the owner of the team?  Will they immediately fire me and send me back home?  So many unknowns.

I finally arrived at the Guadalajara stop just after 11:00 o’clock at night only to find no taxi’s anywhere.  So, I just started walking the empty streets.  I didn’t pass one person.  I think things shut down by 10pm as it was a ghost town.   I aimlessly made my way back home where I took a moment to sit down on a street bench just outside my apartment.  I was nervous, scared and homesick. At that moment I was so unsure of myself.  To me I felt like I was halfway around the world and all alone.   

I will never forget what happened next.

I looked up to the sky and I could see the Big Dipper.  I thought to myself, “this is the same Big Dipper I could see from my front porch as a kid growing up in WV.” The world seemed a little smaller at that exact moment. 

Everything will be ok!  I can do this.  I can bend and not break.

We all have experienced adversity and 2020 has dealt so much to so many.  Can we be truly thankful in adversity because that is where life’s lessons are truly learned.

I hope you will pack Thankfulness everywhere you go!

Stay safe and healthy.