This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. And while for many Thanksgiving is a day about family, food, pie, football, parades, and shopping- at the heart of this day is the reminder to be grateful for all we have. In thinking about gratitude and giving thanks, my mind keeps going back to when I got to visit the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil.
The basilica is the second largest church in the world, coming second to St. Peter’s basilica in the Vatican. The building is absolutely stunning! Walking through and seeing the brightly colored tiles and murals everywhere is incredible. This is a newer church while the older church from the 1600s is still in use and they are connected by a long winding walkway. It is very common to see people on their knees going from the older church down to the newer church as a sign of gratitude for a blessing or miracles that they have received in their life.
While the entire church is stunning and beautiful, to me the real treasure is the Hall of Miracles. This area is in the basement of the church and every inch of the ceiling is covered in pictures of people who have received a miracle. There are rows of plastic arms and legs and heads representing the hundreds of people who received a miracle in their body. There are books about every subject, and machinery that has helped people to prosper. Cases line the walls, each filled with pictures of homes, wedding announcements, baby announcements, farming equipment, new job announcements, building materials, clothing, medical services, etc. On and on, these cases display the miracles that people have received. It was one of the most profound experiences I have ever had because it made me realize how often we take miracles for granted. Everything is a miracle. And having gratitude for all the things, people, experiences, lessons, and understandings that fill our life is a beautiful thing.