March 8, 2008 – An Attitude of Gratitude

Well it was our turn for a change to dodge the winter weather this past week.  Do you suppose the worm has turned and that spring is finally on the doorstep?  Or is it too soon to get my hopes up?  Time will tell.

The weather was certainly a life-changing factor for me and my family around this time 2 years ago.  When you hear the date 9/11, you of course immediately think of the horendous, senseless tragedy of the terrorists flying into the World Trade Center Towers in New York and taking thousands of innocent lives.  There is another date that sticks in the minds of my family whenever it is mentioned, and that date is 3/11.  It was on this date in 2006 that our property was devastated by a tornado.  Now certainly I am not in any way comparing the magnitude of the tragedy in New York to our own.  However, I think there are at least some similarities.

I recall 9/11, 2001 being a very nice day here as well as in New York, and I’m sure people were going about there business with no inkling of anything to come later on.  Likewise, I remember 3/11, 2006 being a very nice day, though unusually warm.  I remember that it was a Saturday, and I was running errands and doing routine things like any other day.  In fact, for some reason, I can remember thinking to myself “boy, things are really going well today.  I’m getting everything done I wanted to, and it’s just been a good, successful day.”

The 9/11 tragedy, of course, came with no warning.  Our 3/11 tragedy did have some warning, though I admit I probably didn’t take the warnings as seriously as I should have.  I remember sitting in the living room following the storms on TV that evening, and telling my mom that “oh, it looks like that storm is going north of us.  Nothing to be concerned about.”  However, it wasn’t long after that we heard a strange “whistling” sound, and we decided to go to the basement.  I am convinced that this was God’s “warning” to us to get up and get going!  Of, course, I remained nonchalant and strolled down to the basement with no cell phone, no flashlight, no nothing!  It is hard to say how long we were in the basement, maybe 5-10 minutes before the lights went out and the crashing noises began.  Not being able to see outside, and being pitch black in the basement with no light, we really had no idea what was going on around us.  I”m sure many in the World Trade Center had the same feeling after the planes hit.

It is strange, but I remember events of that day before the tornado hit much clearer than after.  Afterward, everything seemed like a big blur – call it denial, call it stunned disbelief, call it whatever.  But the one thing that I and my family will never forget is the generosity of friends, neighbors, and strangers who helped us that night, the days after, and even the weeks after.  If I tried to make a list, I would be here until tomorrow, but even 2 years later, we are just as appreciative and still in awe of all of the wonderful people who helped to get us back on our feet.  It seems even in the worst of tragedies there are the hidden blessings.  After the 9/11 tragedy, so many firefighters, policeman, and many others converged on the site to try to find victims with no regard for their own personal safety.  I can say we saw a piece of that first-hand.

I did not make this entry for the sake of pity.  I made this entry to once again thank all of those who helped us in any way, and also to share with you that even 2 years later, we carry a much stronger “attitude of gratitude” than we did before that historical night in our lives.  When things are going well for us, it is so easy to say to ourselves “well, this is how it should be.  Why can’t it always be like this?”  It is easy to forget to say “thank you” to God and to those around us for all of the good things we have and share.  Even in the bad times, there are still those “hidden” blessings that emerge for us to be thankful for.  So as we are close to Holy Week and the many events that comprise it, I offer 2 closing thoughts: 1)  Pay attention to those Tornado Warnings! and 2) Don’t forget to say Thank You to God for giving us everything that is good, and to say Thank you to those special people in our lives for making those good things even more meaningful.



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