Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter … those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.
English poet and intellectual John Milton surely wasn’t thinking about our national holiday of Thanksgiving when he wrote these words in the mid-17th century. And I know for a fact that he wasn’t referring specifically to the field of aging services.
But Milton’s often-quoted musings on gratitude—a virtue we practice in a very special way this week—seems quite fitting both for our upcoming holiday and for our field.
As we enter this holiday season, I’m feeling a tremendous amount of gratitude. And that gratitude has bestowed on me strong feelings of reverence and awe—and an overwhelming certainty that the events of the last 20 months have changed forever how I experience life and the world.
On this Thanksgiving 2021, I’m feeling a renewed reverence for the mission of LeadingAge and its members—and a particular reverence for the passion with which our members pursue their missions, no matter what challenging circumstances they encounter.
Since LeadingAge was founded in 1961, our members have viewed dedication to mission as their defining characteristic. During this pandemic, the missions of LeadingAge members have truly been tested. But members’ passion for their missions survived. Indeed, that passion, and those missions, got members through the storm. I’m so grateful for that.
On this Thanksgiving 2021, I’m feeling an overwhelming sense of awe as I think back on the last 20 months. I am in awe of the research, many years in the making, that allowed scientists to develop highly effective vaccines in record time, saving so many lives in the process.
I’m in awe of the team members at every single LeadingAge member community, who literally put their lives on the line each day—simply by coming to work. We depended on them. Our residents and clients and their families depended on them. And they didn’t let us down.
That took courage, it took dedication, it took love for the people we serve. If that’s not awe-inspiring, I don’t know what is. I am so grateful to know that we have such amazing caregivers on our teams.
Just as Milton suggested, these feelings of gratitude, reverence, and awe have forever changed how I view our field—because our field has been changed forever.
Whenever I speak with a LeadingAge provider, I invariably walk away with a story about an innovation that their organization has implemented over the past 20 months. Responding to an unprecedented health emergency demanded innovative thinking—and our members rose to that challenge. They pivoted. They thought creatively. They took risks. They tried new things.
On this Thanksgiving 2021, I’m grateful for that innovative spirit. I have no doubt that those innovations, both large and small, will have a lasting impact on the quality of care and quality of life that older adults receive from aging services organizations for many years to come.
This gives me great hope for our future.
And for that, my friends, I am most grateful.