So, I want to say, before I say anything else, that I’m especially grateful for my parents. Oh course, I’m incredibly grateful also for my brother, but I wanted to start with my parents, without whose presence in my life I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish anything. Even forgetting about accomplishments, without my parents I wouldn’t be the person I am today. They have allowed, through their having raised me, and their constant support of my endeavors, even when they don’t agree with me, to grow into the Jorge that stands (or at least sits behind this computer screen) before you today.
Secondly is God. But that’s a gratitude I hold every day, for allowing any of this, including my parents, and everything else I’m about to list. I’m grateful to God, for the good and the bad, because all of it is a gift from Him.
Thirdly is my brother, Miguel, who at times was a coach, a mentor, and constant supporter, a third parent, and best of all, the cool older brother. Thank you for everything, Miguel.
I’m grateful for my upbringing, for the good mix of change and moving, and also stability and constant. I’m grateful for the opportunities I had in High School, especially all involved in my attending a top-notch, expensive, Catholic, Jesuit, private school on full scholarship. I’m grateful for all that were there for me, and supported me, especially in times when it seemed everyone was doubting my potential and my capabilities. I’m grateful for all of the love I’ve received in my life.
I’m grateful for all of my teachers, both formal and informal, for the last 15 1/2 years of education, and 19 1/2 years of life. I’m grateful for countless friends, especially those who have shaped the person I am today.
I’m grateful for never having to go hungry, and for always having a roof over my head, especially when it was almost quite certain that I wouldn’t, both as a child, and again as a teenager/adult.
I’m grateful for not growing up in a war zone, and that, even if things were not always great growing up, I still had family, I still had love, I still had my own being, I still had God, and I still had hope.
Now, I want to say something just as important. For all that I have great in my life, I want to help others. I don’t know how exactly that’ll happen, but it might be through service, and through showing gratitude to individuals who’ve made an impact in my life. I want to do something greater, and I feel this own way in my heart. I want to do something greater, so that others might also find where they are grateful in their lives, and make the same choices to reach out to others.
I’m not expecting to change the world, but I feel that, for as much as I have that I’m grateful for, simply giving thanks, while a great start, isn’t enough on it’s own. Action, and service, and the process of loving others is where all of this begins.
It begins all in making relationships.
See, tonight, my family got together, as many do, for a thanksgiving meal. We didn’t have turkey (I’m the only one in my family that actually likes turkey), but we did have ribs and brisket and mashed potatoes and gravy and corn and vegetables and pie. And in all of that, as we were about to do, something that has never before happened at our table happened for the first time: my family wanted to give thanks, openly, aloud. See, we don’t often give thanks out loud, as many such families do, because this holiday isn’t something that is a part of our culture. But as the years have gone on, my family has absorbed more and more American culture, actively choosing to do so of the things we consider beneficial.
So we decided, spur of the moment to give thanks. The funny part of the story, though, is when both of my parents and my brother look at me. For a few seconds there is silence. Then, my father says (in Spanish), “Well, Chochi, you should do the grace. You are the most Catholic, anyways….” The other two nodded in agreement.
He’s not technically wrong, but I was still caught off guard. So, I looked at my mom (which I often do when I’m confused at the dinner table), and she looked back.
I began, “Thank you, Lord….”
I like this anecdote, because it’s a way in which (at least I think) some of my pursuit of contemplation, served side-by-side with action, which has become a big part of my life (alongside the pursuit of finding God in everything) in the last 4 or so years, has begun to also have an impact on my family. I don’t go openly preaching the Gospel to my parents (except on very rare occasion, and that doesn’t always pay off), and I don’t refer to the language and jargon of Catholic Social Teaching, or Liberation Theology/Philosophy, or even Social Justice, though I still use the same methods. I have only very rarely talked about retreats or Jesuit Spirituality.
I think that maybe my actively trying to incorporate a lot of these things into my life, including the examen of consciousness, and talking about gratitude, has sunk into my family’s subconscious through me.
But I also think a big part of it has also been me working on my relationships with my family members, and also loving them, especially when it was difficult. Now that love has allowed for an openness to growth which exists on both sides.
And that makes me so happy, and also grateful.
Now, it’s time for more action.
“Preach the Gospel at all times; use words if necessary.” -St Francis of Assisi