Gratitude in Action

img_0396This is Thanksgiving week. Our favorite holiday. On Thursday afternoon, my partner Pam and I will gather with friends who have become family for us–expats, Ecuadorians, people from all over the globe. We’ll share a meal, a bit of wine, and probably a lot of laughter. We’ll marvel over the miraculous “coincidences” that have brought us together from half a world apart. We’ll undoubtedly talk about things we’re thankful for. And the opportunity to live in Ecuador will be high on that list.

Since we moved to South America a little over a year ago, Pam and I have experienced things we never would have known in the States.

We’ve learned, for example, that even though mañana literally means “tomorrow,” what it really means is, “Not today.” We’ve learned to be patient waiting in line. We’ve learned that gringo is not a derogatory word, at least not in Ecuador. We’ve learned that being an immigrant in a foreign land carries with it a lot of challenges.

In our adopted country, however, being part of an ethnic and racial minority is not the frightening, angst-laden experience it can often be in the United States. We feel welcome here. We feel safe. We have found the Ecuadorian people, in general, to be gentle and welcoming, genuinely kind, and muy tranquilo.

Here in Cuenca we walk instead of drive, and so we speak to our neighbors on the street. We greet each other with smiles. We pause on our walks around the barrio to say, “Buenos dias. ¿Cómo está?” We sit in the park and watch the children play. It’s a slower life, mostly, a more peaceful life–at least when we remember to let it be. A life to be thankful for.

Ecuadorians, of course, don’t celebrate American Thanksgiving, but they do have a phrase for it:  Día de Acción de Gracias. The day of gratitude in action.

Active gratefulness. It’s a concept worth considering.

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God of all graciousness,
God of all gifts,
teach me to live
thankfulness in action.

Let me be grateful
not in words only,
for words can be hollow
and hurtful
and false
as well as empowering,
faithful,
and true.

Let me bring to the Thanksgiving table
all that is in me
of love and longing,
passion and purpose,
creativity and consolation.

Let me know the truth,
even when I would turn
a blind eye
to the mirror of self-awareness,
for nothing is now hidden
that will not be revealed,
and despite myself,
I yearn
for authenticity.

God of all graciousness,
God of all gifts,
let me leap into gratitude
like a cliff diver seeking the wind,
hope-filled, trusting,
and unafraid.

©2016 by Penelope J. Stokes

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3 Responses to Gratitude in Action

  1. Maren says:

    Penny, May I reblog this — it is so very beautiful.

  2. Stefani Owen says:

    Penny you have my heart! Thank for wonderful piece!

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