How to Do Dishes & Feel Grateful

dirty dishes

Here's how a homeless teenager made me feel grateful for my sink full of dirty dishes.


A few months ago, I watched a bit of an investigative piece on homeless teens. One teen girl they followed in the story took up temporary residence in a foreclosed home, which was left empty. There was no running water and no electricity, but she had a safe and somewhat warm place to sleep. Much better than the risky nights spent in the local park.

It was the middle of winter, but I can only guess it was about 35 degrees by the twiggy trees that stood stark in the yard, the way the girl was bundled, and how her words came out with hot white breath as she spoke to the reporter. Her hands looked red and raw in the clip where she washed her plate and cup in cold water from a neighbor's hose.

In the segment, she talked about being invited to eat a hot meal at someone's home. After the dinner, she begged the hostess to do the dishes by hand. "I just love the feel of the warm water on my hands. Oh, how I miss the warm water."

It was a sad story, one I didn't even finish watching because I found it so. I had lots of questions, for which I'll probably never get answers. How did she end up there, bright, young girl that she was? Where were her parents? Will she ever find help or a job or a future?

But one thing I do know now is that every time I find myself sighing over the pile of dirty dishes in my kitchen sink, I think of this girl. The homeless teen-aged girl, just 15 or 16, without parents around, without a hot shower, without a whole lot of hope for the future even though she took survival very seriously. I think of her now, I see her face, her eyes, her pink, cold hands now ever time I plunge my own hands into the warm water and suds.

What's made you feel grateful for what you have lately?

Read More >