Finding Thankfulness

Rick CoulsonBy Rick Coulson5 Minutes

Editor’s note:  Following is a reader-submitted poem about thanking God for the blessings that sometimes become obscured by the seamier side of life. Battling mental illness and finding himself homeless, Rick faced real, significant hardships. Surrounded by violence, bitten by bed bugs, afflicted with ringworm, and drowning in his own thoughts, suicide seemed a comforting option. But God – the giver of life called louder.

In the midst of his despair, He found the peace of Jesus Christ in the sanctuary of a Salvation Army chapel. Today, he ministers to others who hurt as he once did. He’s thankful for the truth that set him free. If you need hope today, you’ll find it here.


Snow is covering the gritty streets of Newark outside the Salvation Army windows.  The Northeast Corridor trains runs across the street, and I watch the train run by everyday wishing I was on it.

But within the sanctuary of the Chapel I find peace, even amongst the chaos that permeates through the building at times.  I can feel the presence of something greater than myself within this small, simple place of worship.

My pain has been eased and I have a new understanding of certain spiritual matters that have perplexed me in my past.

Looking back at my past and present, I somehow feel that this was meant to be.

I had to be stripped of everything inside myself and create a void that God came and filled in moment of desperation.

I searched for God for thirty years but never truly felt his presence inside me until my time at Pennington Street.

I hear a call.

But can I answer?

I have a conflict of heart and mind.

But can the heart and mind be reconciled?

I have many sins to account for. I have been a lost sheep for long time.

But did not Saul become Paul.  Can Pennington street be my road to Damascus?

Failure has plagued me throughout my life and disappointment has been my legacy to my family and myself.

I am so tired of letting everyone and myself down. Life seemed so full of promise as a child and young adult. Only it turned out to be a losing hand with only myself to blame. Was I dealt bad cards or was I just a bad player?

But through Him all things are possible. I feel that God may have something more for me to do.

I have known the words for a long time but now they have different meaning.

But just knowing is not enough, it has to be followed by accepting. Accepting requires that you allow your emotions to enter deep inside you, allowing all feeling whether of pain or peace.

This acceptance allows you to become who you are in your entirety. You become a whole human being in accordance with your true nature which aligns you with the true nature of the Universe and brings you in a true proximity with God.

My reluctance to enter the sanctuary of 65 Pennington street now seems silly and a sign of my ignorance. They fed me when I was hungry and gave me shelter when I had none. But more importantly, they fed my spirit and my soul. I now ask God to help me more to understand than to be understood. We must thank God for his blessings.

This unassuming 5 story building on Pennington Street appears to be just one of many thousands throughout the city of Newark. But for those who know and have experienced it know it has been touched by God and miracles can happen there. For those who choose to and more many times the unwilling that are chosen, find a new way and a new light. released of pain and released of grief, in one of God’s little miracles, 65 Pennington Street.