Less than 24 hours ago, my family and I spent a good part of our Saturday packing school supplies and school bags for young students (third- to sixth-graders) in the far-flung mountains in the Nueva Vizcaya province (in the Philippines).
It was mundane work made meaningful by the thought that one simple bag filled with 12 composition notebooks, a few pencils, a ruler, an eraser, a pair of scissors, and a bottle of glue would bring such joy to so many people. We were told by the different principals of the schools that have received the bags in the past that the parents of the students would cry upon receiving the bags. Cry, because that one bag would cost so much, compared to their meager earnings. Cry, because at least for one year, they would not need to think of how to get school supplies for their children who wanted so much to go to school, that they’d wade through rivers just for a chance to have a regular school day.
And now, as I sit in the quiet of 10:33 PM, with my own 3-year old sound asleep in his bed, I wonder… How can I instill a grateful heart in this beautiful boy who I have the awesome responsibility to help mold and form? How do I ensure he is grateful for things that I myself have taken so much for granted – the mere opportunity for an education, shoes to wear on the way to school, school bags, books, materials that come so easily… How can I ensure he realizes how incredibly blessed he is that he will need to put down those toys because he has to get ready for a day inside a classroom, with teachers who will focus their full attention to teach him new things? How do I ignite the fire in his belly to yearn to learn, to dream of more, to be hungry to know?
How do I make sure that my son grows up grateful, never taking for granted a single second of his ability to go to school? And every moment of his life, for that matter?
I do not know the answers right now. All I know is, today, I opened my eyes to how much I have taken for granted; how easy (and ignorant!) it has been of me to assume the rest of mankind has it this easy. And if I keep this realization close to my heart, and live each day with immense gratitude for everything and everyone, then maybe, just maybe, through my own grateful heart, I will be able to help build a heart filled with gratitude in my beautiful, beautiful boy… :)