November 5, 2009

Gratitude?

Well, it's easy to see how dedicated I was to the idea of reflecting on gratitude.  I clearly haven't done a very good job of keeping up with my promise to reflect on each day and be grateful. 

But I was reflecting today, while I was in the shower.

Tomorrow, I am to attend a dinner for all the "named scholarship" recipients at my school.  Naturally, being invited to attend such a dinner involves dressing up, meeting your donor, small talk and niceties and an interesting mix of gratitude and shame.

Something in me rebels at the thought of this dinner--I don't know what, exactly.  I feel a sense of shame in needing the scholarship...but where does this come from?  I think it has to do with its anonymity and the fact that it is wholly unearned.  Essentially, I am benefitting from charity. 

Why should I be so ashamed?  My financial status qualifies me for this attention; otherwise, I wouldn't have received the scholarship.  But unlike some of my other financial aid awards, I didn't have to do anything for this one.  In fact, I'm not even sure that I was really selected in any particular way.  At least for other things, I feel like the money is deserved: I wrote an essay, or my grades were exemplary, or some other qualifying condition made me eligible for aid.  But this--with no rhyme or reason?  It makes me feel almost like an orphan made to show up for an orphanage function, a prodigal daughter to be shown off and presented as "look at all the good your money is doing in the world."

Maybe I am just ungrateful.  What's wrong with meeting with my donor, and making her feel like she's making a difference in the world?  Does it matter how I was picked out of the lottery of students in order to be singled out for such attention?  Do I really care that there seems to be no reason in particular for me to receive this scholarship? 

What if there really is a reason for me to receive this scholarship, and all this griping is me being lazy and not wanting to devote my time to saying 'Thank you" for something that's truly just a gift?  What if the reason is something we have in common?   How do I feel about that?

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