With Thanksgiving so near, I wanted to share a story. The author is unknown.
One day a professor entered the classroom and announced to his students that he was giving them a surprise test. He handed out the exams with the text facing down. They all waited anxiously at their desks while the teacher handed out the papers. Then he asked the students to turn their papers over.
To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions on the page—just a big black dot in the center of the sheet of paper. Seeing the expressions on the students’ faces, the professor told them the following: “I want you to write about what you see there.” The students, confused, started working on the unusual writing assignment.
At the end of the class, the professor collected all the exams and read each one of them aloud. In all of the papers, without exception, the students wrote about the black dot, describing the dot and trying to explain its position on the page.
After all the papers had been read, the classroom became silent. The professor then explained, “I’m not going to grade you on this assignment. I just wanted to give you something to think about." No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot. The same thing happens in our lives.
“We have a white piece of paper to observe and enjoy, but we always focus on the dark spots. Each day is a gift from God. So we always have reasons to celebrate—nature renewing itself from season to season, our friends around us, the jobs that provide our livelihood, and the miracles we see every day.
However, we insist on focusing only on the dark spots—the health issues that bother us, the lack of money, the complicated relationship with a family member, the disappointment with a friend.
The dark spots are small when compared to everything we have in our lives, but they’re the ones that trouble our minds. Take your eyes away from the black dots in your life. Enjoy each of your blessings, each moment that life gives you. Be happy and live a life filled with love!
During the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving Day in America, no doubt they thought about the many dark spots in their lives. More than half of those who had come to America were dead due to starvation and disease. Many graves dotted their new land, so no doubt the hearts of those left behind were aching from their many losses, and their needs were many.
But the Pilgrims took time to give thanks to God for the things they did have. They prepared a feast of fish, fowl, and deer that they had gleaned from the countryside. Foods such as pumpkin and corn were provided by their new friends, the Native Americans, who feasted with them.
No doubt the pilgrims’ hearts were heavy from their many losses. It would have been easy for the Pilgrims to let their negatives drown out their positives—to let their black dots distract them from the good things around them, to keep them from seeing the white on the page. But they prepared a feast!
Every day we are given to live, there is a white space on a new page—an opportunity to enjoy another day. During this Thanksgiving season, may we focus on our bounty rather than what we do not have and fill our pages with love.
Call about the next "Living Life after Loss" Group at:
709 Liberty, Clay Center, Kansas
Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW, Group Facilitator