There are no coincidences in life. This past Sunday, as I was sitting on a bus heading to Courtenay after a wonderful weekend spent visiting a friend in Sydney, I listened to a passenger chatting with the bus driver. She was heading to Quadra Island for a 6 day kayaking trip and her heartfelt story defines the grace of gratitude.

She was visiting from Denver, Colorado. This fact alone would have been a typical detail in the conversation with a tourist to our area, except for the motive for her travels. She had already visited 15 countries, which included Japan, Argentina and Honduras. The reason behind why she had quit her job to travel the world happened two years ago. This was when her adult son had passed away and left her the money from his life insurance. In order to honor her son’s journey and place in her life, she chose to visit all the places he would have liked to explore, but could not in this lifetime. In other words, the gratitude and love she felt for her son transformed her grief with every moment she experienced the beauty of this earth during her travels in his name.

The power of this act reminded me of another story, this time fictional, of another American who traveled the entire Camino de Santiago in memory of his son who had accidentally died there on the first day of his trek in the mountains. This journey of personal transformation is both a book and a movie entitled The Way, starring Martin Sheen as the father.

When I listened to her retelling of the events which started her journey of gratitude, it reminded me of my own first 12 months in the Comox Valley. Although I had arrived with only three hours experience of my new community prior to my relocation from Ontario in June, I intuitively knew that here was where my Next Chapter needed to begin. My gratitude has found expression in a thousand and one ways: From a beautifully hand-crafted card filled with inspirational quotes mailed by a new friend who just wanted to let me know that I was seen and appreciated to the impromptu conversations with fellow passengers on the bus about the importance of living life in the details.

For example, I spent my first month here literally in visual and sensory bliss admiring all the beautifully arranged and tended flowers, shrubs and hedges. It truly felt like an outdoor botanical garden for all residents and visitors of the Comox Valley. Yet, it was only a week or so ago that I realized why Cliffe Avenue had so many flowers on both sides of the street. Late one afternoon after finishing a meeting, I was driving along the avenue and noticed people of all ages kneeling beside hundreds of boxes with various plants. The sign at the beginning of Cliffe finally clued me in to this annual Mile Long Plant-In Day by volunteers in Courtenay.

This is only one of the many reasons I am grateful to live in this amazing community. We all have reasons to focus on the things that are missing in our lives, but when we shift our thoughts, even for a moment, to allow the beauty of life to shine through…then we truly manifest daily miracles. The Present is truly a gift.

Walk in beauty.

Walk in Beauty
As I walk, As I walk
The Universe is walking with me
In beauty it walks before me
In beauty it walks behind me
In beauty it walks below me
In beauty it walks above me
Beauty is on every side
As I walk, I walk with beauty

Navajo Prayer


Catherine Hedrich

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