If I ever lose my hands…. I won’t have to work no more,

and if I ever lose my eyes…. I won’t have to cry no more,

and if I ever lose my legs…. I won’t have to walk no more,

and if I ever lose my mouth…. I won’t have to talk…

I’m being followed by a moon shadow, moon shadow – moon shadow

From Moon shadow, by Cat Stevens

“It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you have.” – Cheryl Crow 

“Who is rich?” “The one who can appreciate what he has.” – The Talmud

I am always amazed when I hear stories of people who have turned tragedies into blessings.  I am in awe when I meet people who have every reason to be downtrodden, but look for and often find the positive in the middle of tough situations.  Rather than complain about what they’ve lost, they find gratitude for what they have.  It seems I become aware of these stories just when I need them – I’m feeling down about my situation, and need to be reminded that I am blessed.  

I read a story recently about a concert performance given by Itzhak Pearlman in the mid 1990’s.   As you know, Pearlman is possibly the world’s greatest violinist, but was struck with polio as a child as so has braces on his legs and walks with the aid of two crutches.  In any event, it happened that in the middle of one of his performances, a string on his violin broke.  He stopped playing, and everyone in the audience assumed he would need to arrange for another violin or at least change the strings.  But he didn’t.  Instead, he waited a moment, closed his eyes, and signaled the orchestra conductor to begin again.  He played the symphonic work without the string, and you could apparently see him changing and recomposing the piece in his head.  After his amazing performance, his words to the crowd, spoken in a quiet, reverent tone, were “sometimes it’s the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left”. 

We hear stories of courage from people who have lost everything in a flood or fire, yet are grateful for their lives and the few possessions they were able to save.  The news is full of stories of people having to flee their home country, but have gratitude for any assistance they are given.  I have seen people in grief when they’ve lost a loved one, and yet find the courage to be grateful for the years they had together.  As I said, I am in awe.  These are the people who serve as reminders that, even in the face of tragedy, we can appreciate what we have.

Holy one, bless those who have suffered and yet find the courage to express their gratitude.  Help me to find the positive when I encounter tough situations. 

Thanks to @jefflssantos for making this photo available freely on @unsplash

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