Remembering to say thank you

Remembering to say thank you

by Joyce and Barry Vissell

barry and joyceWhen our children were little, I read stories over and over that I hoped would instill in them positive qualities. One story always stood out. It was a little book and the title was, “He remembered to say thank you.” In this Bible story, Jesus is walking in the countryside and comes across a group of ten lepers. I then needed to explain to our children that a leper is someone with a disease that had no cure at that time, and people could catch the disease by contact. Therefore the lepers were outcast and made to live far away by themselves. Back to the story, the ten lepers beg Jesus to heal them. He touches their heads and they are all healed. All ten of them instantly run back toward their families in the city, yelling and screaming in joy. One leper stops and realizes that he has not thanked the man that healed him. He then runs back and thanks Jesus. Jesus then says, “Ten men were healed and only one remembered to say thank you.” He then puts his hand on the man’s head and says to him, “The others were healed in their body, but you have received a greater blessing by remembering to say thank you.”

Of all the stories I read to our children, that story stands out. Sometimes I find myself repeating the words in my head, “He remembered to say thank you.” Those words have become sort of a mantra for me, something I say over and over again and then I think of the meaning.

As we have both written about before, Barry and I and our family like to go rafting and the Rogue River is a favorite place to go. The first year we went, the ranger told us to be extra careful of a rapid called Blossom Bar as 12 people had died there just in that one year. Typically a few people die there every year. This year, as we approached that rapid, Barry and I put our heads together and prayed for protection. While Barry was guiding us through the rapid, I sat in the front holding onto our dog, Rosie, and praying the whole time. I could feel the protection like an angel’s wings around us. Once through the rapid, we felt a wave of relief and shouted in joy. Even our dog gave a wiggle. One hour later, that little mantra floated through my head, “He remembered to say thank you.”  I asked Barry, during a calm stretch, to put our heads together and say our prayer of thankfulness. That prayer of gratitude helped complete something in a very beautiful way. Another blessing besides the protection had come through to us.

Each year Barry and I and our musician friend Charley Thweatt lead a week long retreat for couples in Hawaii. We love doing this very much. Each morning we begin with an early morning meditation. I usually share a short story and lesson on love to help people go into their hearts more deeply. I pour my whole heart into this teaching. There is also music by Charley. One year I particularly put a lot of focus on what I was going to say. I rose when it was still dark outside to prepare. It gives me a lot of joy to lead these meditations. Day after day I gave from my heart and day after day no one commented at all. Each day at least two people would thank Charley for a particular song, but no one said anything to me. I tried to convince myself that the lack of gratitude was okay. However, since no one commented at all, I began to feel that my efforts were not being received by anyone.  I tried to tell myself that I was not doing this for the praise, which was true. I was doing the meditations because I sincerely wanted the group to get these lessons on love and I loved to do them. But still, day by day, with absolutely no comment, I began to feel sad. Finally I asked my friend Judy who was there with her husband Pat. Judy gave me what I was needing, and yet how much better if someone would have just spoken a word of gratitude or acknowledgement. Everyone needs a word of acknowledgement. That is the very real human part of all of us.

This experience in Hawaii led me to thinking about our Creator. Day after day we are all blessed with gifts, such as a beautiful sunset, flowers in bloom, our children, water to drink and the list goes on and on. Sometimes I wonder if our Creator also wishes that we would acknowledge these amazing gifts.

I feel very far from perfect in remembering to say thank you, and yet it has become something that is very important to me. I want to give acknowledgement for all of the gifts, however they come and however small. In my relationship with Barry, I try to see the things that he does and thank him. Some things are very big, like the way he looks at me with so much love. But even small things, like emptying the dishwasher by himself when it is something that we usually do together, will get a big hug and thank you from me. I want him to know that I see and am grateful for all of the ways, however big or small, that he is helping and loving me.

You might think that people know you are grateful, so you don’t have to share it. But remember that expressing your gratitude is a special gift for you as well. Cards, letters, phone calls, a hug in person, an email or even texts are all powerful ways to express your gratitude. The important thing is to do it. And then there are the many blessings that come from the unseen hand and Presence of Love which watches over us continually. A moment of noticing and bowing your head in gratitude can bless your life in ways you can hardly imagine.

Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following longer events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell: Oct 14-20—Assisi Retreat, Italy; Feb 7-14, 2016—Hawaii Couples Retreat; June 4-11, 2016 — Alaska “Inside Message” Cruise from Seattle; Jul 17-22—Shared Heart Summer Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR.

About the authors

Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world’s top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk to Be Healed, The Heart’s Wisdom, Meant to Be, and A Mother’s Final Gift.

Call Toll-Free 1-800-766-0629 (locally 831-684-2299) or write to the Shared Heart Foundation, P.O. Box 2140, Aptos, CA 95001, for further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.

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