Remembering to Say Thank You by Joyce and Barry Vissell
Column: The Shared Heart New Dimensions of Relationship
When our children were little, I read stories over and over that I hoped would instill positive qualities in them. One story always stood out. It was a little book, and the title was, “He remembered to say thank you.” In this Bible story, Jesus is walking in the countryside and comes across a group of 10 lepers. I then needed to explain to our children that a leper is someone with a disease that had no cure at that time, and people could catch the disease by contact. Therefore the lepers were outcasts, and made to live far away by themselves. Back to the story, the 10 lepers beg Jesus to heal them. He touches their heads and they are all healed. All 10 of them instantly run back toward their families in the city, yelling and screaming with joy. One leper stops and realizes that he has not thanked the man that healed him. He then runs back and thanks Jesus. Jesus then says, “10 men were healed and only one remembered to say thank you.” He then puts his hand on the man’s head and says to him, “The others were healed in their body, but you have received a greater blessing by remembering to say thank you.”
Of all the stories I read to our children, that story stands out. Sometimes I find myself repeating the words in my head, “He remembered to say thank you.” Those words have become sort of a mantra for me, something I say over and over again, and then I think about the meaning.
As we have both written about before, Barry and I and our family like to go rafting, and the Rogue River is a favorite place to go. The first year we went, the ranger told us to be extra careful of a rapid called Blossom Bar, as 12 people had died there just in that one year. Typically a few people die there every year. This year, as we approached that rapid, Barry and I put our heads together and prayed for protection. While Barry was guiding us through the rapid, I sat in the front holding onto our dog, Rosie, and praying the whole time. I could feel the protection like an angel’s wings around us. Once through the rapid, we felt a wave of relief and shouted for joy. Even our dog gave a wiggle. One hour later, that little mantra floated through my head, “He remembered to say thank you.” I asked Barry, during a calm stretch, to put our heads together and say our prayer of thankfulness. That prayer of gratitude helped complete something in a very beautiful way. Another blessing besides the protection had come through to us.
Every year Barry and I and our musician friend Charley Thweatt lead a week-long retreat for couples in Hawaii. We love doing this very much. Every morning we begin with an early morning meditation. I usually share a short story, and lesson on love to help people go into their hearts more deeply. I pour my heart into this teaching. There is also music by Charley. One year I particularly put a lot of focus on what I was going to say. I rose when it was still dark outside to prepare. It gives me a lot of joy to lead these meditations. Day after day I gave from my heart, and day after day noone commented at all. Every day at least two people would thank Charley for a particular song, yet noone said anything to me. I tried to convince myself that the lack of gratitude was okay. However, since noone commented at all, I began to feel that my efforts were not being received by anyone. I tried to tell myself that I was not doing this for the praise, which was true. I was doing the meditations because I sincerely wanted the group to get these lessons on love, and I loved to do them. Still, day by day, with absolutely no comment, I began to feel sad. Finally I spoke with my friend Judy, who was there with her husband Pat. Judy gave me what I needed, and yet how much better it would have been if someone would have just spoken a word of gratitude or acknowledgement. Everyone needs acknowledgement. That is the very real human part of all of us.
This experience in Hawaii led me to thinking about our Creator. Day after day we are all blessed with gifts, such as a beautiful sunset, flowers in bloom, our children, water to drink, and the list goes on and on. Sometimes I wonder if our Creator also wishes that we would acknowledge these amazing gifts.
I feel very far from perfect in remembering to say thank you, yet it has become something that is very important to me. I want to give acknowledgement for all of the gifts, however they come and however small. In my relationship with Barry, I try to see the things that he does and thank him. Some things are very big, like the way he looks at me with so much love. Yet even small things, like emptying the dishwasher by himself when it is something that we usually do together, will get a big hug and thank you from me. I want him to know that I see and am grateful for all of the ways, however big or small, that he is helping and loving me.
You might think that people know you are grateful, so you don’t have to share it. Remember that expressing your gratitude is a special gift for you as well. Cards, letters, phone calls, a hug in person, an email, or even texts are all powerful ways to express your gratitude. The important thing is to do it. Then there are the many blessings that come from the unseen hand and Presence of Love which watches over us continually. A moment of noticing and bowing your head in gratitude can bless your life in ways you can hardly imagine.
Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell: Oct 14-20-Assisi Retreat, Italy; Feb 7-14, 2016-Hawaii Couples Retreat; June 4-11- Alaska “Inside Message” Cruise from Seattle; Jul 17-22-Shared Heart Summer Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR.
Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world’s top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk to Be Healed, The Heart’s Wisdom, Meant to Be, and A Mother’s Final Gift.
Call Toll-Free 800-766-0629 (locally 831-684-2299), or write to the Shared Heart Foundation, P.O. Box 2140, Aptos, CA 95001, for further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings, or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their website at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.