As the daylight dwindles and the year comes to an end, the Rev. Tom Purdy finds his thoughts turning toward gratitude. The rector of Christ Church Frederica on St. Simons Island feels that this is a prime time to take account of one’s blessings.
And whatever is going on in one’s life, Purdy says there’s always plenty of those to be found.
“I have done exercises around gratitude with persons dozens, if not hundreds, of times and there is always something to be grateful for. It may be gratitude for our loved ones, or a lesson taught long ago that still bears fruit, or maybe for something we take for granted, like our health, sight or hearing,” he said.
“Perhaps we will be grateful to remember that we have a God who created us out of love and walks this journey with us, wherever it takes us.”
It’s a message that he always looks to share — especially in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. And this year, he’s gotten a unique opportunity. Purdy has partnered with loacl artist Randy Siegel and Glynn Visual Arts to encourage generating gratitude in one’s own life.
Siegel’s new exhibit, titled Painted Prayers: Prayers During a Pandemic, features art work accompanied by three specific themes — gratitude, trust and service. Local clergy members like Purdy are joining the effort, each publishing an essay on one theme and issuing a call to action for the community.
The Rev. Kendall Shaw will later write on “trust” with Rabbi Rachael Bregman closing out the initiative by writing on “service.”
Purdy says that he feels this exhibit and accompanying calls to action are particularly poignant at this moment to encourage a sense of unity.
“I think we’ve all been pulled into smaller and smaller visions of the world as a result of the pandemic and the current political climate, fracturing community and centering more and more on us and our ‘group,’” he said.
To help, Purdy’s take on gratitude will be distributed via email. And he, Siegel and GVA are asking that the community send in words of gratitude through Nov. 25. Those may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When they are received, a $1 donation will be gifted to the Rise Risley Community Center in Brunswick. The funds will go toward purchasing art supplies. The words will also be compiled into a graphic for future display.
It’s an effort Purdy sees as win-win — using one’s own grateful heart to fuel positivity.
“Practicing gratitude opens us to a larger view of the world as it truly is, and invites us to be respectful, kind and appreciative of one another and God. In these difficult times, we could all stand to practice gratitude a bit more freely and openly,” he said.
“God is good, even during trying times, and we have much to be thankful for. If I can help remind people to be grateful to God and one another I’m all in.”
Siegel’s Painted Prayers exhibit will be on display through Jan. 2. The exhibition will be available for viewing from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday at Glynn Visual Arts. Masks are required in the gallery. Private in-person showings are also available by appointment by calling 912-638-8770.