One of my gifts to a friend this Christmas was a “Gratitude Kit” consisting of 52 small thank-you cards and a handsome little journal to keep track of a note sent each week to someone who has extended an unexpected act of kindness or who in some way has gone above and beyond the expected—the barista who always spreads cheer with her smile, the co-worker who does a favor, a neighbor who stops by with a garden bouquet for no special reason, that sort of thing. At the end of the year, she will have a lovely memento of some big and small acts of kindness she’s enjoyed and for which she has expressed gratitude.
If I had kept such a journal this past year, here are a few people and things I would have included:
- Our two Holy Fathers in 2013—Pope Benedict, who showed us how to step down with grace and dignity after a long period of prayerful discernment, and Pope Francis, who continues to model the humility of Christ for the world; and for their combined efforts in bringing Lumen Fides to print. In 2014 they will jointly canonize two of their predecessors—can you image St. Peter’s Square in Rome on that day!
- California’s Dr. Jennifer Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute, www.ruthinstitute.org, which promotes the value of lifelong married love, especially to college students. She was recently honored by Our Sunday Visitor as one of the nine top Catholics of 2013. Congratulations, Jenny, and thanks for your tireless advocacy.
- Governor Jerry Brown, who vetoed SB 131, saying “This extraordinary extension of the statue of limitations, which legislators chose not to apply to public institutions, is simply too open-ended and unfair.” Thank you, Governor Brown.
- FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, www.focus.org, for including California in this year’s campus expansion program. This national organization now has FOCUS missionary teams on three California campuses: USC, UCSB and Cal. Thanks to Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Barber who have welcomed FOCUS into their dioceses. Thanks to the young people who courageously commit themselves to two years of evangelizing their peers; with a very personal nod to the Berkeley team, Cindy, Maya, Darrin and John, for their profoundly lived love for Christ and the joy they’ve brought into my life.
- For the many people who extended acts of kindness, large and small, to me and my family during this past year—a big thank you. You know who you are and what you did!
My list could go on and on, but I invite you, the readers, to post your own notes of gratitude for the people, places and events that have brought particular blessings to you in the past year. May the Lord make His face shine upon you in 2014—and thanks for reading my blogs!