October was my month of gratitude.
During the month, I went away by myself for two weeks, time I am deeply thankful for. I organized, and participated in, three letter writing workshops, sending letters of thanks to those who use their time here on earth helping refugees, migrants, and all others most in need. I made and mailed 31 thank you cards, humbly attempting to express that profound, yet simple emotion – gratitude.
The letter writing workshops came about after seeing all of the images coming across the water of Syrian refugees. I felt the need to do something…and then I remembered that quote by Mr. Rogers:
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.
I decided we would write to the humanitarian aid workers helping Syrian refugees – they are those helpers, today, now. I found a website that highlighted ‘smaller groups doing incredible work on the ground, every day’ (http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-09-03/5-groups-doing-important-work-help-refugees-you-may-not-have-heard). I went to those other websites, and where I could, found names of people working within these organizations. I felt the need to make this very personal, and to give the option of addressing these letters to specific individuals – putting a name to the cause.
Emmett, Rosy, Christine, Diana, Faddy, Fadi, Omar, Razan, Talaat, Rola, Manhal
The workshops were intimate, personal, and beautiful. Three people came out to help me write these letters (I also managed to get the facilitators of the locations I was using to pick up a pen as well). I took the time I had with these three people to reconnect (they are all friends), to explain my passion behind what we were doing, and to give them my full attention – they were my ‘someone to be thankful for’, and I AM thankful for them.
Pam, Naomi, Matthew, Faith, Savanah
The cards were made by me, back here in London, each one cut and glued, and put together by my own hand. You know what my favourite part about making these cards was? It was writing each persons name. Each time, I was naming my own gratitude. These names that I had written down on post-it-notes and stuck up on the wall of that cottage, were the helpers in my life, and I took my time, thinking of each of them, individually, personally, as I wrote their names, with the words ‘thank you’, over and over again. That was my practice for this project: over and over again, thank you thank you thank you.
So, at the end of it all, what am I most thankful for? I am thankful for the helpers. To those that believe in the good of human beings, to those that use their money carefully, to those that spend their time helping others, to those that lead by example, to those that give of themselves over and over again – you are my teachers, you are who I am thankful for.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
All my love, Smudge