My cup overflows
Last month, Peter DeMarco wrote a letter that was later published in the New York Times. It was addressed to the numerous medical professionals who cared for his 34-year-old wife in the hospital. Laura had suffered a severe asthma attack and later died after a seven-day stay at CHA Cambridge Hospital.
The circumstances were tragic and Peter’s expressed grief was more than understandable. Yet, what was particularly moving about this public letter was the sincere gratitude expressed even in the midst of such heartache and sorrow.
Peter could list the dozens of nurses by name. He could speak to every time they tenderly cared for his wife, treating her with dignity even if she was unable to respond to them. He spoke about the hundreds of “little” things they did to make everyone as comfortable as possible in an otherwise cold and sterile hospital room. Even while grieving, Peter’s heart remained oriented toward thankfulness.
I think of people like Peter DeMarco whenever I read the words of the well-known Psalm 23. In the same breath where we say, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” we also speak the words, “my cup overflows.” There’s a reason so many of us know this beautiful piece of scripture by heart. Even in the midst of fear or worry or grief, we also name our gratitude for the steadfast gifts of God that cause our “cup” to runneth over.
Gratitude is more than mumbling “thank you” when a gift is received. And gratefulness shouldn’t be limited to naming aloud the things we’re thankful for when a feast is spread out before us. Rather, gratitude is the mindset that acknowledges we cannot change the circumstances of our lives but we can find goodness and grace in each day. In our worst moments or our most challenging situations, a grateful heart is one that can see the entirety of our lives as a gift.
As author and rabbi Harold Kushner puts it, “For those who have cultivated the habit of gratitude, no matter how large a bowl we set out to receive God’s blessings, it will always overflow.”
Long after this designated day of giving thanks has come and gone, I might suggest re-reading the twenty-third psalm. In days of green pastures or still waters, and through the times of darkest valleys, may we always look for God’s goodness that causes us to say, “My cup overflows.”
–Katy Warren, associate pastor