On being thankful

On Friday evening I travelled down to Mount House Prep School in Tavistock, Devon to give a talk at their Friday service, and it was a lovely occasion. Mount House is a delightful school – small, warm, friendly and well-supported by parents, even to the extent that they are regular contributors to the great school choir, who sang a John Barnard anthem beautifully. A relaxed and delicious supper with the Head and his family after the service rounded off what was a super and uplifting evening.

My theme for the evening was thankfulness, as we have much to be thankful for in our lives, and sometimes we do not stop, take stock, and recognise this. I spoke again about Bangladesh, and my visit to that country last October with Plan UK to see the magnificent work that Plan is doing with and for children in that country (as in 49 other countries around the world); I find myself still inspired, on a daily basis, by my visit to Bangladesh – it was a powerful experience to see so much poverty and hardship, and yet so much positive work going on.

And of course, what was so remarkable in Bangladesh was the thankfulness and joy which was evident wherever we went. Everywhere we travelled, we were greeted with happy faces, cheerful songs, flowers … I wish I could have brought home the garlands of colourful flowers, and bottled up some of the laughter and the joy. These were people who had nothing, and yet were thankful for what they had, and for what they were doing, together with others, to create a better life for their children. There was a lightness, a happiness, a joyfulness about them as a result, and it was fantastic to see this.

That visit to Bangladesh taught me a lot. It taught me to value what I have, and to be thankful for my life. It taught me that you don’t need possessions to be happy. It taught me too that being thankful brings great joy not just to yourself but to others.

And of course, it taught me that we are all the same, we human beings, and we should never forget this. We should do what we can to help those less fortunate than ourselves, and we should do this not because we are better than them, but because we are all human beings together, and this is what we do – we do things for one another.

We would all do well, I think, to reflect from time to time on whether we are thankful enough for what we have, and for the world around us, and whether we are translating this thankfulness into action for our fellow humans. If, as I suspect might be the case, we realise that we are not thankful enough, or doing enough, then remember that it is never too late to adjust our perception of our lives, nor too late to make a difference. Start now – look up, look about you, see what is amazing in this world, and be truly, truly thankful. Your heart will be lighter immediately.

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