This awareness of my blessings is particularly acute when tragedy strikes elsewhere, as it has in the Philippines. Hearing about children ripped from parents' arms, dead bodies covering streets, people trying to survive without food or water for days while they await help; It creates a pit in your stomach. If you really think about it, it is unbearable. You won't be able to breathe.
For many years, I've been a believer in everything happening for a reason. That is difficult in times of tragedy. I found it particularly difficult in residency as training in a large, urban quartenary pediatric care center means you see sick, sick kids. Bad things happen to those tiny people. It was impossible to find the "why" at those times and I hoped some higher Being had a secret answer that made all the suffering make sense.
At those moments, all that was left to do was get some tissues, hold a mother's hand, tell them "I'm sorry" and sometimes cry with them. You always wished you could do more.
We can't hold the hands of those mothers halfway around the world, but we can pray, we can act. I hope this tragedy does remind us all what we have in our lives - a warm home, food on our tables, a beautiful family - whatever we find precious - be grateful. I hope your gratitude moves you so hard you have to find someway to eject it from your body.
At church on Sunday, our priest talked about imagining if we could each just help one other person, what a huge difference that would make. Just one person. I can't imagine a better feeling then sharing our good fortune with others. Just one person. Let's do it.
If you have an idea you'd like to share about who you are going to help this holiday season, please post!