Like so many other things in life, there are two sides to my gratitude and thankfulness. The surprising part is that it is just that quality that deepens and enhances the splendid virtue of gratitude. I am finding more and more meaning in each and every moment of life even when it delivers the bad news; the setback or disappointment because I am coming to understand that like a shiny penny found on the ground, there are two sides to consider.

The pandemic is probably the best example of that two-sided principle because it presents the absolute, most dreaded situation that one can imagine. However, as we consider all of the effects and impacts from this ongoing horror; both the tragedy and the exalted nature of people’s positive responses, we can perhaps become thankful for the sterling qualities of creativity and resilience that it has brought out in people all over the world. The pandemic has created a much needed “pause” with the potential to bring us back to ourselves in a meaningful way; prompting us to connect to what really matters with deep appreciation for life and a reverence for the end of life.

I see the majestic ravens returning to reclaim their place in my neighborhood as they herald their claim to the land and air and I am grateful beyond words. Their bold presence is a declaration and a reminder of the grandeur of nature. The other side of the “coin” is the fact that humans are pushing wildlife further and further out of existence with overdevelopment and a thoughtless disregard for animal habitats and environmental prudence. My gratitude abounds with every “caw” from these beautiful blackbirds because they persist in letting us all know that they are still here. Their call to action can remind us that we can still make a change.

I feel compassion and intense gratitude every time I look at “Pickles,” an older dog who survived a rough life to be rescued by my husband and me for her “second chapter.” We opened our home and our hearts to love another pet knowing full well that when she is sick or hurt, we often feel sad and helpless. We know that the end of her life will leave an even deeper sadness; yet, this knowing yields a deep gratitude for every day we share with her because it teaches us a kind of compassion that comes with an exchange of unconditional  love that is both rare and precious.

Gratitude has become a way of life for me because with every heartfelt expression of thanks, I receive a comparable gift of grace. I accept and allow each day to bring good and bad; ups and downs; challenges and victories, and with it a big dose of appreciation for all the resilience, confidence, hope and faith that allows me to endure.