A reflection on gratitude by Dr. Dan Bergen, executive director of community engagement
In late spring of 2013, I received a voicemail from my mom expressing a deep sense of gratitude. My wife and I had spent the Memorial Day holiday working with my father to tidy up the patio area, planting a small garden of flowers on the perimeter of the space, placing the outdoor furniture and spreading the mulch. My mom called a few days later and left the following message:
I am sitting out here on the back patio, feeling the warmth of the sun, looking at the beautiful flowers — and I feel so grateful. I close my eyes and imagine that this must be what heaven feels like. Thank you so much for all your work this past weekend. I love you.”
Three weeks after she left the message, my mom would close her earthly eyes for the last time, before opening them to the full reality of heaven. I can only imagine the power of that moment for her.
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, gratitude is a word of which many of us will be reminded. This year, I will be especially cognizant of those moments in my life where I think, “this must be what heaven feels like.” And, I will be grateful for the privilege of those moments.
The laughter of family around the dinner table, the hug of a close friend, the collective prayer offered by my faith community or the taste of pumpkin pie, all conspiring to give me a glimpse into that moment when I will open my eyes and see her once again, sitting in that beautiful garden, soaking up the warmth of the sun.