Thursday, May 7, 2009


"The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears."
Hopi Indian

I think it was the great Maya Angelou who first introduced me to the idea of giving thanks when you least feel like giving thanks.  She was telling Oprah that when you're in a difficult situation, (I'm paraphrasing here,) you should thank the universe for providing you with the experience, because it is an opportunity for growth.  You may not be able to see it in the moment, but after some time passes you might recognize a lesson or gift that has come from your experience.

This is a tricky one.  When you're dealing with tragedy, loss or illness, it takes a highly evolved individual to look Pain in the face and say, "thank you."  I've met such a person, though.  I was volunteering at The Vancouver Children's Hospital to provide support for parents with sick children.  I'd take coffee, tea and baked goods to a little room where parents could meet and chat.  I was there to serve them and to visit with them if they felt like talking.  If parents didn't want to leave their child's bedside I would take food and drinks to their rooms.  Most of the time parents just wanted to make small-talk.  I once chatted with a man about the Canucks for an hour before learning that he was leaving Vancouver the next day because his son had died.   

There was one young mom I will not soon forget.  She had brightly colored hair, a few piercings, and punk clothes.  Her daughter was terminally ill and the doctors didn't expect her to ever leave the hospital.  Mother and daughter were far away from home, friends and family.   This mom had every reason to be sad, withdrawn, depressed, furious; yet she would come into the coffee room and support other parents.  She had a natural ability to boost people's spirits.  I was in awe of her.  I joked with her at one point about how she was taking over my job and she smiled.  I asked her how she did it; how she was able to stay positive and spread hope to others in the midst of such pain.  She told me that her daughter had taught her something wonderful: that she was a good mom.  No matter what her baby girl was going through, no matter how bad things got, she had found the strength to be right there beside her every step of the way.  She said it was a gift.

Imagine that.  I think Maya would have been inspired by this woman.  I certainly was.