Last year, I took my son to see Pope Francis I in Philadelphia when he came to the United States. The entire city had been shut down, so getting to central Philadelphia had required special train tickets and such. But we got there.
Although my family has some Catholic background, we never were particularly religious. However, I have been impressed with this particular Pope like no other, and just thought it would be something to see, and an experience that my son would remember and, hopefully, benefit from.
And so we went, and found a fairly decent place to sit on the grass of Independence Mall while facing Independence Hall, where the Pope was to speak. Of course, I reminded my son of the history of the place, much of which he had already learned in school. This was the place where Continental Congress met, and this was the place where the Declaration of Independence was signed. He seemed interested to learn that this building was on the back of a $100 bill, and seemed particularly interested in me showing him a bill. Of course, I did not have one on me, although if I had, he surely would have asked if he could keep it.
In any case, it was a pleasant day, mostly filled with sitting around and waiting for the Pope to arrive.
Finally, when he arrived, everyone got up on their feet, and the excitement built. We saw him pass a few hundred feet in front of us, waving to the crowd. And then, he was taken to Independence Hall itself, to meet with dignitaries.
After some minutes passed, he emerged from the building and addressed the enthusiastic crowd.
The one thing that really stuck with me was his emphasis on gratitude, and he stressed to us that we should make a point of remembering to feel thankful, grateful, for all the blessings that we had.
Indeed, that is a message that resonated with me. It was not unique to the Pope, of course. But I could always use a reminder of the significance of being appreciative for all that I have been blessed with in my life, because it is easy to forget, and get caught up with all the details of daily life. For a while, I was successful in taking a few moments each day after that, and thinking about something that I was truly grateful for.
Unfortunately, it did not stick. Every now and again, it comes back. And although I always mean to try and make sure to keep this habit up, it usually fades away, unfortunately.
However, I had such a moment yesterday. My son was punished for something that he did earlier this week, and so he could not play any video games, or anything like that. However, it seemed like a good idea to take him out and do something fun and constructive, so I decided to take him to Bogue Pond in Bloomingdale, his home town.
The weather has been hot and sticky for most of the week, but yesterday was about as nice as you could ask for, and the late afternoon and evening, when we went to the park, was particularly pleasant. He had enjoyed his day at camp, and now, we could both enjoy the park, before returning home and getting him ready for bed.
He brought his book, although he spent most of the time on the playground, which was nice to see. I brought books, and was reading them, although occasionally, my eyes would lift up and appreciate the pond with the fountain in the middle, and the green foliage surrounding the park. At one point, we had the park to ourselves, and so I moved to the gazebo, and continued reading, although this time, I looked around, and saw colorful flowers in nearby pots. This, plus the view of the pond and the fountain on such a beautiful summer evening, coupled with the fact that my son was there enjoying himself, reminded me of how much of a blessing this was. I felt, and feel, truly thankful for such moments.
It just seemed like something that was worth sharing, and a reminder to myself, also, to take more time to appreciate all that life has blessed me with!