October 11, 2011 at 7:36 am, by Carl

A few weeks ago, one of my former students knocked at my door.  I love it when this happens, so I happily welcomed him into the office.  He couldn’t stay long, but merely wanted to drop off a letter to me.  It was simple and direct, yet powerful.  What he gave me was an amazing “Thank you” note.


He wasn’t the first student to let me know of their appreciation.  Each time I get such a note from a student, it is a wonderful moment of realizing that, at least for that person, I had done a good job.


How about you?  Who in your life do you need to thank?  Is appreciation and thanks a part of your worldview?


I always make it my practice to say “thank you” to the men and women who clean up our campus.  Their jobs are the dirty ones (you should see the men’s restroom from time to time, and I use the word “men” loosely, based on the actions of some in that room; you’d think they have never had to aim properly before).  Trash is often everywhere; students even leave half-drunk cans of soda in the hallway.  So, when I see these heroes of our campus, I thank them.


Whenever I interact with soldiers, current or former, again, thanks and appreciation come out of my mouth.  Some have literally put their lives on the line; all have sacrificed years in service to the country.  Regardless of how I feel about the politics of a certain administration, I should easily be able to say “thank you.”


Even with my students, when they do something simple like turning in their work, I thank them.  Sometimes, my saying “thanks” or “yes sir” or “yes ma’am” to students who are half my age throws them for a loop.  For some students, I can only imagine that they’ve only rarely seen respect and appreciation between adults before.  I’ve even had some, students or otherwise, urge me to not show such respect for them; I always tell them that my Mother will find out and come smack me if I don’t.  OK, my Mom never really smacked me, but she would be very disappointed in me if I lost that sense of showing respect, of saying thank you in appreciation.


Today, as you make your way through your day, look for moments to show simple gratitude.  Perhaps the other person won’t really notice; I think, however, just like I did after my student left, they’ll be so happy that you noticed.  It will make their day and yours at the same time.


And who knows, maybe, just maybe, your act will be just enough to plant the seed of grace, appreciation and thanks into our culture, seeds that will bloom into something more beautiful than the cultural wasteland we see around us today.