Doubling-Down on Gratitude

Every year, I write a “Gratitude” editorial for the Winter issue of Dialog. This is a version of that editorial–choosing gratitude, even when gratitude doesn’t seem to me the most logical or obvious response to current circumstances. I get it. And yet….So here it is.

Here we are again.

Despite all optimism, despite all positive signs earlier in the year, despite our conviction that things surely would be better this year. Here we are again.

When I wrote my annual gratitude editorial last year at this time, I was worn down, as I know many of you were as well, but I also was hopeful. Vaccines were just around the corner, and most of us were optimistic that the worst was over. In 2020, we lost Easter and we lost Christmas, we lost birthdays and anniversaries, we lost trips, we lost vacations, we lost jobs, and most importantly, we lost countless loved ones. Surely, 2021 would be better. 

And, certainly, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that, in many ways, 2021 has been better, especially for those of us who were both able and chose to be vaccinated. (And let me just say a “shame on you” to those who are able but are choosing not to be vaccinated. Your self-absorption and baseless suspicion is increasing the risk for the rest of us, particularly the most vulnerable, dramatically—and we are not happy about it, to say the least).

But, let’s be honest, in the midst of lockdowns in different parts of the world, the surging of the Omicron variant, persistent suspicion of vaccines all around the globe, travel restrictions, and ongoing mask mandates, 2021 also feels depressingly similar to 2020.

One of my friends said that we really should start thinking of the coronavirus as endemic, rather than a temporary pandemic, and that reality is discouraging. It seems that a full return to pre-COVID normal is no longer in reach, and perhaps it has permanently slipped away.

And yet.

In this environment, I am doubling down on gratitude. Call it “gratitude in spite of;” “gratitude anyway;” or even, “gratitude, dammit.” Whatever.

The point is, I am choosing gratitude. In this Advent season in particular, I am stubbornly, insistently, defiantly refusing to let the pandemic win.

As far as I am concerned, this season of hope, the season of miraculous birth, this season of unexpected gifts, and this season of God-with-us will always have the last word. With God, there are always possibilities. With God, there is always reason for hope. With God, there is always good news. And this year, together, with God, we have persevered. And I am grateful for that.

So, to all you out there, hanging in and hanging on, continuing to love, continuing to care, continuing to work to make a positive different in the world, thank you. Thank you for not giving up. Thank you for not giving in. Thank you for not losing hope. 

I don’t know what 2022 will bring, but I say, bring it on. We will rise up, and we will meet it. Together. With God. We will persevere.

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