Two days ago, my wife and I bought a street newspaper, sold mostly by the homeless. On the front page where I usually see articles about the poor or inadequate housing, was a headline that read “Attitude of Gratitude.” Inside were thirty expressions of thanksgiving mostly by those who are homeless or homeless until recently. Two things struck me: (1) It is mid-summer and not the “Thanksgiving” season. (2) You don’t expect such expressions from homeless people.
From the center pages, here is a sampling of what I found: “Shorty” is thankful for God, the hospital, his friends and those who buy the newspaper. Sam is thankful for his dog, the newspaper, and his customers. Candy is thankful for a regular customer who gave her a big coat and boots last winter. Otherwise, she says she would have never been able to keep selling the paper. Clint is thankful for now having his own place and for getting his tooth fixed by Dr. Harrell. Susan is thankful she no longer hates herself. George is thankful for people who believed in him when lots of others did not. Almost all of them were thankful for the opportunity to sell the newspaper and most mentioned their customers.
Was this a clever trick just to get us to keep us buying the paper? I don’t think so. I believe what I read were simple expressions from the hearts of people who have known life’s challenges but are still grateful. I believe I was hearing from people who have a lot to complain about, but are choosing to give thanks.
What do you think? Can we learn something from these folks? I think so. I, also, have my challenges. But I think they are teaching me to be thankful for the bed I will sleep in tonight, for the doctor I will see tomorrow, and for the car that will take me there in comfort on a humid day. You get the idea. I think they are reminding me to be grateful for blessings in my life that I sometimes hardly notice and surely showing me not to take my family or friends for granted. I think they are telling me to be thankful for all of you who read these thoughts each week and add your own (which I hope you will do now).
Next time I buy a paper, I am going to thank the person who sells it to me.