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Puddles of Sunshine

"I like to sit in the puddle of sunshine," she told me one warm June morning. There was a sliver of summer sun flooding in through the front window.

She was in her eighties and was a resident of the long-term care facility in which I worked. She had lived through great hardships in her lifetime, some of which I was honored to learn about as I grew to know her. A lifetime of sorrow and joy. Numerous heartbreaks and repeated opportunities for healing. Eighty years worth of moments, with me as a spectator of her later life, that I could never fully know the extent. Me, the one who had not actually lived her rich life.

In spite of it all, she radiated joy. Her face held a smile everywhere she went, as if she knew a secret the rest of the world didn't.

And she did. It was the practice of gratitude. The practice of learning to find the "puddles of sunshine," even in the midst of ongoing difficult circumstances.

Admission to a long-term care facility means forfeiting one's independence, declining health, or the ability to live alone. There is grief that comes with this life-altering change. There is also separation from loved ones; those who aren't always able to visit as often as they would like. Even in spite of her unwanted circumstance, this beautiful person cultivated gratitude as a daily practice.

Over the past few years, the tension of the world has increased to a level that feels palpable at every turn. A brief scroll through social media can leave my heart feeling heavy and discouraged. It can be challenging to feel genuinely grateful. Often it feels easier to grumble, or to default to worry.

Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV) says, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."