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Window of Gratitude

What is amazing about gratitude is its volume.

As in, gratitude can fit the size of a life to include your family, your friends, and all your loved ones.  It can also squeeze into the tiny corners of a pocket, like the perfect parking spot or the mornings you find an extra fifteen minutes to snooze.

Gratitude fits the size of the window from where I am writing this morning.  A bit about this window: it is roughly 42″ x 36″ and it faces a long, wide hill that is separated by a wild, overgrown, albeit charming pond.  The forest and a bramble flank either side of this view.  The middle, straight ahead, is wide open. The desk where I sit to write is centered on the window.

On work days, there is a cast of characters that I depend on during the day to pass through this frame:

  • a family of deer with their baby fawns
  • one grandpa deer, with old dusty antlers and a slight limp
  • and at least two of the four ragamuffin barn cats that scour the area for
  • squirrels and field mice

I depend on these furry, unassuming, leisurely visitors because when they arrive I am instantly transported.  It is a break from work, a break from a list to check off, and an instant overload of cute.  But most importantly, they run through the frame that carries my daily gratitude – gratitude for a window that grants more than a view.  It gives a pause, a place to look and reflect.  Pauses like these are the chance to think outside of our tiny orbits, to consider others.

The holidays can also be this kind of window.  They capture the picturesque and, like this window, can create a timeout to collectively look around, to take some life inventory.  Holidays locate the space to express thankfulness… awareness… appreciation.  I say this because, when we experience a spirit of gratefulness, there is the chance that some of it can spill into acts of generosity.

The holidays mark a rise in domestic violence and abuse.  While this time of year sees the beginning of celebration and rejoicing, it is also the time when emotional and financial stress can escalate. Often the combination of spending more time with family, higher anxiety levels, and excessive drug and alcohol use lead to an increase in reported incidents of abuse and calls to hotlines. According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV), the number of hotline calls they receive during the Thanksgiving holidays nearly doubled from 2004 to 2010.

What’s more, domestic violence programs across both Pennsylvania and the US at large are experiencing significant drops in staffing and financial support.

In Pennsylvania:
32% report reduced government funding
18% report not enough staff

17% report private funding cuts

In the United States:
27% report reduced government funding
20% report not enough staff
12% report private funding cuts

Unmet requests for help have significant consequences.  As explained by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV):

“Domestic violence programs do not always know what happens when a survivor courageously calls a stranger to ask for a bed or other help and the services aren’t available.  However 60% of programs report that victims are forced to return to their abuser, 32% report that victims become homeless, and 8% report that the families are forced to live in their cars.”

Contributions of any size, even the smallest of them, yield gratitude that can spread farther and wider than the act itself.  So while we seek the little windows that remind us of the things we are thankful for, let us also pour into the bucket of generosity.

Support your local shelter, help where you can, if you can – because where one’s view is full and magnificent, another may need a little extra light.

AWP Volunteer

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