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Season of gratitude

"Giving and receiving are one." -- Lau Tzu

“Giving and receiving are one.” — Lau Tzu

My wife plans to buy some really good thank-you cards today.

It’s been an uplifting week, actually two in a row, and we anticipate another to come at the month’s end.

This is a season of gratitude. From people like you to Denise and myself. Then back at you as we recharge. Reverberating wherever hearts stay open, refusing to close.

There’s something uncanny about this reciprocity. Finding it helps break through the storm clouds. Reaching back to it, we disperse negative forces that seem to mount everywhere else.

Maybe it’s more than the old adage, “What goes around comes around.” Or good karma—not that I truly understand all that, not yet anyway.

I offer that there’s something more to this giving back stuff. When it involves an alignment of your life’s work, or passion, with people who also get it, everyone can lift each other through their trials. You may not even realize it’s happening. Then you feel the rays of first light loosening the frost.

“This circle of gratitude is infectious. And I hope it spreads.” — Rev. Lyndon Harris

We’ve discovered a ripple effect in this reciprocity that is not just a cliché. It involves real people. Those who step forward to show they care, as they can; others among circles a few removed from ours who, once touched, come forward to reach others.

Yesterday morning, eight of Denise’s friends and colleagues at Hope Floats Healing and Wellness Center joined us around a table in Hyannis, where she was being recognized for her service to the community. One of our yoga teachers, Linda Sheldon, had nominated Denise for an American Red Cross Heroes award.

She was among an eclectic group of people thrust into being lifesavers, or having trained in law enforcement or the armed services for the very moment when the call came. A Coast Guard crew flew a team of three doctors through a crippling winter storm to aid a neonatal patient on Nantucket. An employee with Down’s syndrome at a gym found a man facedown in a whirlpool and quickly got him help.

Each one answered with grace under fire.

As keynote presenter and author Casey Sherman noted, none of the recipients likely considered themselves heroes. (Sherman is co-author of The Finest Hours, which chronicles the daring 1952 rescue of 32 men trapped in a sinking oil tanker off Chatham, now a heralded film.)

Denise, for one, felt more lifted by those who took the time traveling early in the morning to show their support—and love.

The previous evening, after attending a pre-awards reception, we talked again about those people who keep showing up. And those, like some of our son Michael’s friends, who circle back with positive energy when they can. The rain had ended, and after seeing a rainbow with an uninterrupted arc on Cape Cod, the last light was brilliant and evocative, layering the thinning clouds like eons of sedimentary rock.

The Red Cross event was a hub of good energy. This, I told her, absolutely felt like the right place to be.

There’s something more to this giving back stuff.

We are also grateful for the efforts and support of the April 3 fundraiser for Hope Floats. Thanks to Skating 4 The Nation, its crew and sponsors, for a great afternoon! We look forward to seeing many of you guys on the ice again.

Also a brief preview: registration is cranking for Hope Floats’ 3d Annual Memory Walk on April 30! We already have about 250 participants, up from last year!

We hope you can make it Saturday, perhaps on a team to honor someone you love—or for the camaraderie of the morning. It promises to be another great day. Seedling.Giving2

A few years ago, while meeting people for my forthcoming book, I was struck by how some 9/11 families experienced a similar gratitude. Elevated by random acts of kindness from neighbors and strangers in their hour of need, a few picked up the ball and ran hard. They needed to run, they needed to do something, and instilling service or tributes to the fallen transformed their lives.

On the edge of Ground Zero in Manhattan’s financial district there is a historic church, Saint Paul’s Chapel. George Washington prayed there, and the church continues to stand as a sentinel amidst the cacophony of everyday business, having born witness to one of the most heinous crimes against humanity.

A few days after the 9/11 attacks, Saint Paul’s opened its sanctuary as a respite for rescue and later recovery crews. Volunteers provided water and coffee, there were cots, counsellors, and foot massages. Men who stayed at a shelter grilled burgers while firefighters grabbed a couple of hours in a pew. The center stayed open continuously for 260 days; some half million meals were served. Daily celebrations of the Eucharist were reserved for rescuers.

As the center closed the following May, the Reverend Lyndon Harris thanked more than five thousand volunteers. He then offered:

“Emerging here is a dynamic I like to refer to as a ‘reciprocity of gratitude’–a circle of thanksgiving–in which people have risen to the scriptural challenge…’to try and outdo one another in showing love.’ Both giver and receiver have been changed by it. This circle of gratitude is infectious. And I hope it spreads. I hope it turns into an epidemic.”

Hallmark, do you have the appropriate cards for us?

Courtesy Plant

Courtesy Plant

This Post Has 8 Comments
    1. Dan, thanks so much … everyone reaching out, even in this space or wherever, always means a lot to us. Hope you’re doing well!

  1. You and Denise are such an amazing inspiration to all who experience grief and pain. As you work tirelessly to walk with others along this journey of life, bringing comfort, hope, and encouragement to so many people, I am really glad that someone has taken the time to recognize everything you both do. You have created a beautiful sanctuary of healing – such a meaningful tribute to your son. Thank you both so much.

  2. Ken, thank you for your eloquent words. You and Denise prove time and again how the love you have for each other and compassion for others shines and gives hope and encouragement to all who have been touched by you and your mission. I am glad to have found my way to you and am always humbled and honored to do what I can to help spread service of love.

    1. Karla, thank YOU for the feedback … and we feel lifted for having found our way to you, and so many others who nurture and help heal everyone at the center. Denise felt enveloped by that support this week.

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