Reflections on Gratitude and Tenderness

by Melissa J. Johnson, Ph.D.

“There are no promises. Look deeply at joy and sorrow, at laughing and crying, at hoping and fearing, at all that lives and dies. What truly heals is gratitude and tenderness.” ~Pema Chodron

In daily conversations with my cherished Institute team, my friends and family members, I’m constantly struck by this current experience of shared humanity. We sit with uncertainty in these times. All of us.  We feel deeply. Sometimes laughing so hard we can’t form a coherent sentence. Granted, its often dark humor but as a cancer survivor, I’m quite familiar with the way dark humor can help sustain. So we laugh. Hard. And then we cry because our hearts are broken. Sometimes we are frozen with fear. And then hope shows up. Yesterday I was appreciating the plants growing on my deck, thriving in this weather, relentless in their determination.  I purchased a pot of shamrocks in early March from Trader Joes. Before the world here had changed. The shamrocks are sprouting their “second bloom.”  The leggy stems of the first bloom are now making space for new growth sprouting up. I called to my partner, “you must come and see this!”  Hope…. To share.  So, as we live this week of Passover and Easter and spring, I hold in my open hands what it means to be human – some joy and sorrow, laughter and crying, hoping and fearing. And I’m grateful.  For food, and shelter and shamrocks and being human… with you. That’s what sustains me.

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