As Thanksgiving approaches, this tale helps me to remember gratitude. Gratitude is a doorway through which the blessings of The Universal Friend flow into our lives.
A Lesson in Gratitude
Part 2 of 2
©2008 Daniel A. Brown
After a shower and some blessed hours of sleep, we joined the family for dinner. To my dying day, I’ll never forget the meal we were served. It consisted of Kraft’s macaroni and cheese, Wonder Bread and “cherry” Kool-Aid. Now, normally, I don’t eat food like this. Wonder Bread is bread in name only, all the nutrients being sucked out of it before being baked into some tasteless white glop. Kool-Aid is basically sugar mixed with red dye #2 that causes cancer in mice and the cheese in the macaroni comes from a fluorescent powder that is probably extracted from a nuclear waste dump. In all, this meal was un-natural, un-organic, and unhealthy.
I ate every bite.
I did so because the meal was offered to us with the purest of love and to refuse it would have been rudeness bordering on blasphemy. Had they served a cake baked with rat poison for dessert, I still would have shared it, convinced that the loving energy in which it was offered would have counter-balanced any potential harm. Thirty years later, I am still thankful for this particular meal.
Over the recent years, I have joined the Buddhist monks and nuns of our local Peace Pagoda on various pilgrimages around the nation. I noticed that, because they depend on the benevolence of strangers, they aren’t picky about the food they are offered. Thus, I have seen them offer prayers of thanks for meals ranging from a bowl of brown rice to a plate of greasy fried chicken straight from Fry-o-lator Hell. It’s all the same to them and they only express displeasure at some of their more spoiled pilgrims who reject a meal because of what is euphemistically referred to as “food issues”. For those of you outside the loop, “food issues” are manifested by people who won’t eat this or that for a long list of real or imagined health or social issues. Being privileged Americans, they are free to accept and reject what is available to eat to make sure that only the purest, healthiest and fair-traded foods enter their delicate systems.
Unfortunately, billions of people in other parts of the world suffer from “food issues” too. If they don’t find something to eat, they and their children starve to death. To me, that’s the ultimate “food issue”.
In retrospect, I try to eat a balanced and healthy diet (as long as it includes pizza and coffee). But I also try to stop and remind myself to express gratitude and thanks for the fact that I am eating and don’t suffer either from physical want or the fear of want. There but for the grace of God go all of us in the shoes of those who are hungry and have little on their plates. They don’t have the luxury of choice. We do.