Perhaps because there’s so much I took for granted, I sometimes struggled with what to say when giving thanks, and struggled even more to truly mean what I said.
That’s not the case now.
After a six-day hiking trip at Ontario’s Killarney Provincial Park off the shores of Georgian Bay last September, I found that there are not enough words to express everything that I am thankful for.
The work never stopped once we arrived at the campsite. My friend and I would spent nights doing all kinds of chores. We collected pieces of wood to build a fire, set up a bear hang with all our smelly goods suspended by a rope high in the trees and set up a tarp and tent in case of heavy rainfall. We often had to refill our water bottles with lake water, using water purifier pills to make the water safe to drink.
After everything was finished and the dehydrated food was cooked over the fire, we never began a meal without saying what we were thankful for that day. We would then count down as we yelled together “Thank you!” towards the view of the vast lake, mountains and trees, the words bouncing back to us in echo.
When I sat in my tent attempting to sleep in the same sweaty clothes I had slept in the night before with a bulky root piercing at my back, I couldn’t help but feel a sudden longing for my parents and a nice hot bath.
I remember thinking that there were people in the world who were living the way I was at that moment, but instead of only having to experience this for six days, they have been doing it for their entire lives. I am so lucky to have everything I had in my life that others may have never seen in their entire lifetime.
This trip made me think of my material possessions such as my phone, laptop and television that consume hours of my day. I felt terrible knowing how silly it was for me to have considered these things to be a part of my daily necessities when really, I already had everything I needed.
Through this trip, I realized how much of God’s beauty I was missing. As I lived in the city amongst the bustling of crowds of people and the rushing of cars and sounds of construction lingering around every corner, it’s easy to succumb to anger, stress and even forgetting to make time for my faith.
I believe that God sent me on this trip as a blessing to remind me of something that I had lost through my way of life, to be appreciative of everything God has granted me.
Let us remember to take time from our busy schedules to count our blessings, as well as help others recognize them. There is so much to be thankful for. The challenge is to recognize, appreciate and understand what is truly important.
(Azevedo, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Holy Name of Mary College School in Mississauga, Ont.)