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A Message of Thanksgiving

by Rev. Joby Brown MDiv BCC,
Director, APC Board of Directors

APC Forum, November 2019, Vol. 20 No. 7


Nearly every time I leave a patient’s room I say thank you.  I am sure I am not alone in this practice.  But occasionally I will hear that familiar question – “Why are you thanking me?  You helped me.  I should be the one who is thankful.”  This always offers an invitation to reflect deeper with that person, or the family, of what I experienced with them, from them, and about them.  Saying thank you goes a long way, as we learned as children, to express a deep gratitude for the humbling privileges we have to honor life, offer blessing, and help seek paths through deep trails and over bridges that some find terrifying. 

The Dalai Lama is credited as saying, “When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others.”  And after years of studying many different religions and philosophies, I have never found a scriptural text or ethic that does not subscribe some form of thankful behavior or need to express gratitude in the practice of our daily life.  I believe deeply that this is because when we say thank you or enter into a mindful and prayerful state of gratitude, we offer ourselves the opportunity to reflect on the beauty of our journey – where we have been, where we are, and where we are yet to go – and all the people and places we have been and how deeply humbling it is to have been there with all of them.  I am thankful to serve on the APC Board of Directors, I am thankful to serve the community sized hospital that I do, I am thankful for all the places and people I will encounter in the days ahead already.  I am even thankful for winter cold and snow this early in the year where I live in Wisconsin. 

None of this gratitude I have necessarily makes me a better person, but it does help the world around me feel much larger and much more beautiful, which does make me more humble.  As well, thankfulness offers an ethic of living into our callings and into the very best we can.  In doing so, hopefully others become aware of what being human is, and how special it can be in all aspects of it.  And that is my hope for all my APC colleagues – that you don’t forget to say thank you.  Thank you.

Rev. Joby Brown is a Staff Chaplain with Ascension Wisconsin, currently serving at Wheaton Franciscan Elmbrook Memorial and Columbia St. Mary’s Ozaukee hospitals in Milwaukee.