As the summer comes to a close, I am thankful for many things, including the good rain that has diminished the threat of wild fires and nourished our parched land. I never imagined that I would be praying for clouds and showers in western Washington, but now I am glad that the prayers of many have been answered.

Without a doubt, water is an amazing and life-sustaining gift! On our recent family vacation to Hawaii, we were happy to see a species of tree called “travelers palm” which stores this precious gift of water in its trunk for dry and parched travelers. My daughter, Kirsti, took special delight because this tree is also the national symbol of Madagascar, the island where I grew up and where she lived as a student. When she saw the tree, Kirsti was filled with the kind of gratitude that the Hawaiians call “mahalo.”

In her book called “Managing with Aloha”, Rosa Kay says: “ Many will often say Mahalo to simply convey “thank you.” As a value, Mahalo includes thankfulness, appreciation, and gratitude as a way of living. We live in thankfulness for the richness that makes life so precious at work and at home, and we are able to sense our gifts elementally. Mahalo is the opposite of indifference and apathy, for it is the life perspective of giving thanks for what you have by using your gifts — and all of your gifts — in the best possible way.”

This strikes a chord within me, because I, too, want to live each day in thankfulness for the richness that makes life so precious and to use my gifts- all my gifts- in the best possible way. As a reminder, I have put the word “mahalo” on a card next to my desk. Maybe there is some word or phrase of thanks that resonates for you, as well. If so, dwell with it in the weeks and months ahead and let it be your own traveler’s palm, filled with the water you need to quench your thirst and nourish you for the journey ahead.

Pastor Jan Ruud