Gratitude During the Isolation

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I’m in quarantine! Nothing at all related to Covid-19. I underwent foot surgery this past week for repair of a peroneal tendon which, medical literature says, usually develops for people who are extremely active athletes. Or, as my doctor says, who are undergoing physical degeneration, the euphemism for aging. Guess which category I fit in! Tendons are like taffy holding muscle to bone. My tendon just wore down probably from indiscreet jogging many years ago and a walking program in later years. And, of course, age! The taffy wore thin and began tearing so much so that a sizable hole needed a bit of needlework. The upshot of this is that for practical reasons, I’ve had to relocate my basement workspace to my second floor bedroom in this old farmhouse of many stairs! The doctor made it clear, absolutely no weight on this foot for at least four weeks. In the quiet of my self-imposed isolation, I am confronted with the challenge of being grateful.

Jack Kornfield is a well-known psychologist, American practitioner and teacher of Buddism who founded the Insight Meditation Center in Massachusetts. Along with just about every Buddhist I have ever read, especially the Dali Lama, Kornfield says, “Gratitude is to be cultivated as a habit, or attitude of mind, not dependent on conditions.” In other words, one is to BE gratitude, to live it from within your core being. Don’t just be grateful when handed a gift or a favor. Live gratitude. It will make you, Kornfield adds, a person of integrity. To emphasize the beauty of living as gratitude, Saint Ignatius Loyola instructed his followers in what he called, “an attitude of gratitude.” For him, gratitude was a manifestation of the awareness that we are redeemed. How could we be anything but joyful and grateful for this?  Kornfield also said, “Don’t take life so seriously, or get so wrapped up in your everyday drama, that you forget to see the beauty around you.”  He inferred later that the more you see of spirituality in beauty, the more grateful you will become.


This year we have so much to be grateful for despite the overwhelming pain and struggle of the pandemic. Situations and people we would not ordinarily think of thanking God for have emerged as heroes in need of our gratitude. Health care professionals, scientists, service employees, retailers, single parents, businesses struggling to stay open for us. How about families making valiant efforts to secure safety for their elderly, and for their example of keeping watch where the granite of separation prevents them from touch or an embrace. What about the many people doing extraordinary kindnesses at their own expense to help others. Think of landlords who are forgiving the monthly rent for as long as possible, business owners giving their salaries to their employees. Thousands of such kindnesses are happening daily.

Kornfield points out that Buddhism encourages the believer to request sorrows and challenges so the heart can be remade, kneaded, mellowed into deeper humanness. In some Buddhist temples there are prayers carved into walls asking for pain so as to be made humble and open for others.

During this Season of Thanksgiving, I want to acknowledge you, my faithful readers and anonymous angels and thank you for your notes and comments and simple connectedness. I pray for you in my gratitude. I know some of you and your intentions are dear to me. Let us live our gratitude by giving to others when we rise from our prayer. 

Make a list of that for which you are most grateful. Then ask yourself: How will I express my gratitude?

The salient reason for Thanksgiving is to express gratitude for our country. The pilgrims saw great promise in the land, the expansive sky, the majestic mountains. Centuries later, we are still excavating that promise, finding treasures waiting for our hands to bring forth. What small things can I do to secure the continued search for peace and prosperity for all in this land of promise?

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19 thoughts on “Gratitude During the Isolation

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  1. Thank you for the attitude adjustment reminder. I’ve been feeling sad and angry that we won’t be able to see our grandchildren and all of our children for the holidays, a situation that so many of us are facing this year, instead of rejoicing for all that we DO have and how we have been blessed. Thank you, dear friend and maybe your Thanksgiving be blessed!


    1. Good thoughts, Barb. Find something different to distract you from the frustration of not seeing family. Praise God for the gift of your art, the talent of expression you have been given through paint and drawing! Hope to see you soon at the JRC, at least after four weeks!


  2. Wow, hope your recovery continues. Hard to keep weight off of your foot for one month. Such a challenge but good to know you’ll be fine. Also, sounds like a good time to self quarantine. Take care, miss you, love and prayers, Pam


    1. Thank you Pam. I miss our conversations. I’m sure you will miss your family, and I regret it. But make it a reflective time. You have so many challenges and God simply loves you for them!!!


  3. Thank you sister for sharing your spiritual insight. I thank God that I have met you so many years ago, what a blessing you have been. Holy Spirit lay your healing touch on sister give her your peace and your gift of continued fortitude amen and amen 🙏🙏🙏❤️❤️ My prayers are with you

    Sent from my iPad



    1. Thank you Carol. You have been a blessing to many people through nursing and parish work. I hope you can see your daughter this year. I will be praying for you as it is the first holiday without Dave. But he is there. You gotta believe! He is with you…


  4. Thank you for this beautiful reflection. Your foot surgery has happened at a good time when no one is going anywhere right now. How grateful I am to have you in my life. How grateful for all God’s good gifts. I will follow your advice and begin writing a gratitude list. So often, I forget to be aware of the gifts.
    Happy Thanksgiving!


    1. And it all started at St. Aloysius grade school 75. years ago!! Our group of classmates is a wonderful bunch and I miss all of you during this pandemic. But we are connected in prayer. So glad we have each other!


  5. You are so good to pray for me, Carol. This is a heartfelt holiday without Dave. I hope you can see your daughter at least. You have been good to so many people in your nursing and parish ministries. This might be your feast of memories this year!
    My prayers are with you….


  6. Hope and pray you’re healing well and quickly. Happy Thanksgiving.

    On Mon, Nov 23, 2020 at 5:57 AM In All Things Charity wrote:

    > mflannery8 posted: ” Photo Credit: I’m in quarantine! Nothing > at all related to Covid-19. I underwent foot surgery this past week for > repair of a peroneal tendon which, medical literature says, usually > develops for people who are&” >


  7. Dear Educator mine dear Sr M A Flannery,

    Your recovery shall brighten the lives of so many, as loving thoughts surround you full of prayers , smiles and hugs!
    Even though years have passed, your guidance permeates without sitting in a Classroom with you!
    As the title, Earthen Vessels, beautifully presented in song circulates through my mind, words connect so choicely from your most needed, welcomed and digested Post.
    I gratefully continue absorbing insights through your thoughts.
    Yes, much to be thankful this year of continued challenges… one just appreciates words transcending powerful examples of hope, spiritual awakening and devotion to humanity through caring…
    God’s richest Blessings be yours, dear teacher, still wisely making me a better Earthen Vessel…
    Thanksgiving healing thoughts!

    Mary C Kalabiha Class of 70


  8. Like always, another beautiful blog. Thank you for doing these weekly meditations. I’m sorry to hear of your surgery and hope you are behaving (BIG ask!) and healing well. I miss you. May God bless you and all the Sisters this Thanksgiving and always. Love & Prayers Cheryl



  9. I too wish you, Sister, a wonderful grateful recovery. I have a gratitude challenge, however. My young nephew died last week. He was just a boy really; so much fun, joyous and creative. I held him just after he was born. So I must find a grateful state of mind with which to mourn him,
    the obvious being how grateful I am to have had him in my life for the time I did. With that said, I’m at a loss. Looking for gratitude in death eludes me.


    1. KD: Having gratitude in death is rare and not expected of us. Grieve. Cry. Hold on to memories. Who was the writer who said, “thrash about the room; break everything, wail, then fall on your knees–into His arms–and ask for peace. You are then open.” I share your pain and will pray for you, your nephew’s parents, everyone who knew and loved him into eternity. God love you KD, Much love, S. MAF


  10. SrMary Ann…

    Blessings of Thanksgiving…
    For all you are, for all you share, for all you are to so many!

    Love ya
    Mary Kalabiha

    PS. Hope you are following Drs orders…


  11. Hi Mary Ann! had time today to get connected to your blog. It’s always a blessing, a real “gratitude” to see you or read you. I do my best to live a life of gratitude, and your share was another slant and enriching for me.
    I hope and pray, too, that your foot is healing well, so you’ll be dancing a grateful, but careful jig in the future!
    I remember hearing about your little canine companion passing “over the rainbow bridge.” I’m sorry for that loss of your precious little friend. He would probably be sitting right at your grateful feet right now!
    Feel lots of loving appreciation and my prayer for your healing! May your Advent and Christmas be gentle and joyful!


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