Last week, I spoke with a women’s group that meets in a church basement not far from where I live. I enjoy this group—they represent various ages and ethnicities. They’re good listeners. And they love to laugh.
I spoke on times when feeling truly thankful to God for blessings received is a challenge. I knew that a few of these women, gathered on folding chairs in this brightly-lit basement on a Tuesday morning, were not awash in gratitude. Tired eyes and solemn expressions told me all I needed to know. And, as I spoke, I watched tears rise in some of their eyes.
At a break, the person in charge of refreshments made an announcement.
“Okay,” she began, hands on her hips, her tone playful. “So I’m grateful that when I went into the kitchen to make the coffee today, the floor was sticky and the soles of my shoes stuck. Furthermore, I’m grateful that the coffee cart tipped over because one of its wheels is missing. I’m grateful that I had to get down on hands and knees to clean it up.”
By the end of her rant, all of us were laughing.
And I felt grateful for community. For church basements and circles of chairs in libraries or bookshops or living rooms, where people gather together, listen to each other, and let tears fill their eyes. I was grateful for the healing, inexplicable calm that comes over us when we gather together like these women had on that autumn morning.