Over the weekend I heard a small nugget of a story that continues to roll around in my mind and stirs my spirit. A young woman had suffered a severely abusive childhood and was seeking help to heal from her anger and bitterness. She was asked to recall anything from her youth for which she was grateful. She could only recall a day when a kindly woman offered warmth and cup of hot chocolate. From that one memory, she was encouraged to build a view of gratitude - to seek it - to embrace it in the present. Her healing began with the memory of one simple act of kindness that happened many years before - a cup of hot chocolate.
There are two important lessons from this story. First, we never know what seed we may plant in a single act of kindness - no matter how small. That seed may grow years from now and for reasons we cannot comprehend. Kindness is a seed that heals and it will grow when the time is right.
Second, kindness sparks gratitude. When we feel gratitude, anger and bitterness melt away. If we want to end anger and bitterness, gratitude is the path. Kindness sparks gratitude. It may not spark today but when the time is right, it will surface.
In my darkest moments - in those moments of hopelessness, anger and bitterness - it has always been gratitude that has provided a light that guided the path toward healing. Gratitude for even the simple things grows a sense of healing. As focus on gratitude grows healing also grows.
There are many hopeless, angry and bitter people in the world. Perhaps many are beyond reach. But if you are reading this, you are not. You can walk in gratitude. You can become a spark with kindness. Something as simple as a cup of hot chocolate might be the difference.