Latitude for Gratitude


All around the world, many 12-Step groups will be focusing on the Eleventh Step during the month of November.

Step 11: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.“

In the United States, many groups will also be sharing about gratitude since Thanksgiving falls in same month. This is a good way to begin tying up and letting go of 2020. We have been through the moaning and groaning, as well as the very real pain, grief and suffering of the year. Some of us have lost friends and loved ones to Covid-19. Hurricanes wreaked havoc on parts of South Mississippi. Conflicts have flourished and protests have caught the attention of everyone. The losses and negative impacts have been difficult. The positive actions are making for needed changes.

On All Saints Day (November 1), my friend, Rev. Dr. Christopher Crotwell, reminded his congregation of what another Presbyterian minister, Fred Rogers, did in 1997. “Mr. Rogers,” as he was known to so many, while receiving a lifetime award in Hollywood, asked the audience to take 10 seconds and remember people who had a significant positive impact on them. He suggested these are people for whom we are grateful.

How about it? Stop reading for a moment and recall the people who have had a significant positive influence on your life. People who contributed to you being who and what you are today. Go ahead. Do it. Pause

You are probably thankful for some people who are no longer with us. You may have listed people who impacted your recovery. Maybe even some folks from Pine Grove! Maybe some family, close friends, etc.

Now let’s look at 2020 and see if we can squeeze more gratitude out of this topsy turvy year. As we think about developing a gratitude list, I am sharing some of mine here:

I am very grateful for:

  • The God of my understanding helping me recover directly, indirectly and through sponsors.
  • Close and distant loved ones and friends who continue to offer good tidings and spiritual energy.
  • Electronic technology developed before Covid-19 allowing us to have 12 Step meetings online.
  • Zoom experiences like officiating at my daughter’s wedding in Bend, OR, my best friend’s memorial service in Puyallup, WA and visiting with grandchildren in Phoenix, AZ.
  • Cell phones that allow us to easily encourage each other.
  • Social media. (Though less so than other things!)
  • Bill W and Dr. Bob getting together in 1935 and creating 12-Step recovery.
  • Pine Grove’s marketing department who have continued to carry the message and bring in patients.
  • The Pine Grove bookstore offering a variety of recovery literature.
  • Nurses who continue to participate in the healing of others.
  • Doctors who just keep on trying and giving.
  • Patients past and present teaching us how to do our work without intending to.
  • Courageous people who challenge a nation to rethink attitudes, prejudices and false conclusions.
  • All sorts of people who have enhanced my own spiritual journey while inviting me to share theirs.
  • Forrest General Healthcare Foundation as they continue building the spiritual area where patients may make transformative labyrinth walks, gather around a fire to end their stay here and pray at the medicine wheel while experiencing their own their personal spirituality.

And the list could go on and on.

Perhaps I am most grateful that in the year 2020 there are people reminding us to live ONE DAY AT A TIME! As hard as that is, sometimes it is the one thing we can strive for no matter what.

Now, YOU are invited to start writing your gratitude list. Don’t forget the little things.

You don’t have to be in 12-Step recovery to make a gratitude list, but you do need some degree of memory and mindfulness!

Peace, Joe Pack Arnold

About Joe Pack Arnold, Spirituality Coordinator

Joe Pack Arnold is the Spiritual Coordinator for Pine Grove’s Legacy program, which treats adults ages 55 plus with chemical addiction. Arnold earned his bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, and completed his Master of Divinity degree at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. Arnold was ordained by the Birmingham Presbytery Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), and completed his chaplain residency at South Carolina State Hospital in Columbia, SC. He’s held various pastor and counseling positions throughout the United States during his career. Arnold is also Pine Grove’s former Director of Spiritual Services.

About Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services

Located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services is one of the nation’s most comprehensive treatment campuses. Pine Grove’s world renowned programs treat gender specific chemical addiction including specialized tracks for co-occurring eating disorders and trauma. Additionally, Pine Grove offers an Intensive Outpatient substance abuse healing program for adults and a separate treatment program specifically for those who are age 55 plus. Other Pine Grove specialty programs include a dedicated professional’s treatment curriculum and a comprehensive evaluation center. Pine Grove also features a program for patients with sexual addiction. Inpatient Services including an Adult Psychiatric Unit, along with a Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Unit, and Outpatient Services are other components. Pine Grove is a division of Forrest Health, a partnership of healthcare organizations across South Mississippi, and the behavioral healthcare extension of Forrest General Hospital, a 547 bed, level II Regional Trauma Center. Established in 1984, Pine Grove has provided nationally and internationally recognized health care for 36 years.

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