Reconnecting with Gratitude 

2 weeks ago, our senior advisor Gerard received an email titled “Reconnecting with Gratitude” from someone who volunteered with us 20 years ago.  She told Gerard that she got his email from a friend of a friend and wanted to thank him in person for what he had said to her then. “I recall what you said to me that has impacted my life to this day,” was how she had put it. 

She wrote that she was helping with a juggling programme where she accompanied the children to performances and as she was driving them back to the Centre from one, she got into an accident involving 4 other vehicles. Gerard remembered the circus programme which was sponsored by Cirque du Soleil, but he could not remember the volunteer or the accident she had mentioned. Nonetheless, he was much moved by her effort in reaching him and agreed to meet. 

When they met, Gerard learnt that he had arrived at the accident site to ensure that all the children got back safely in another vehicle. He then drove with the volunteer in the van that was slightly damaged in the accident. The volunteer was apologizing profusely when he asked her, “Would you feel better if I scolded you?”  She replied immediately, “Yes!” and he replied, “But, I won’t do that.” 

The story jolted Gerard’s memory but while he could still not fully remember the specifics, he knew that it was true because he would have done the same today.  He reiterated to the volunteer that she was serving with her best intentions, and it was commendable that she stepped forward when we needed a driver. Accidents happen but we can only be grateful that the kids were safe and no one else got hurt.  Repair costs will eventually be sorted out and the only thing that matters is that no one got hurt. “Love people and use things” is the mantra and definitely not the other way around.  

It was all in a day’s work for Gerard but the volunteer told him, “You gave me grace at a time when I was so used to beating myself up. You showed me that it did not have to be that way. I was ok and I learnt that when we try, we can see what truly matters in a difficult situation.” 

When we asked Gerard what he took away from the encounter, he replied that we live in a world where punishment seems to be the solution or consequence for all problems or mistakes. Our world is broken enough he reckons, and whenever we can bring about some healing we must. A little kindness or graciousness is never wasted. 

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