Grotto's November 2021 Edition: Gratitude

Somewhere in the whirring, air-conditioned servers that fill up Grotto Network’s digital storage room, there is a video of me at the base of the highest mountain in Africa saying something really dumb: “My hope for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is that I can learn how to ask for less from God.”

Very stupid indeed. 

It was a moment of feeling embarrassed by abundance. I was an American in Tanzania, I was a white man of great privilege, I had just begun an exciting new job for a start-up that would become Grotto Network, and I was going to climb this peak after months of physical training. I felt I had enough in life, so who was I to bother God? 

Cut to me a few days later, brain deprived of oxygen, lungs seizing and gasping for my Albuterol inhaler, every muscle in my legs telling me to lay down and die. Our guide to the mountain had to grab me by the arm and drag me the final steps to the peak at 19,341 feet, where I promptly broke down in tears. 

Which is how I learned how silly it is to say, “I want to learn how to ask for less from God.”

It’s not Mount Kilimanjaro, but I’m looking up at another daunting challenge here at Grotto. I was recently appointed as the new director of Grotto, now overseeing the whole of our network. Despite being here for a while managing video content, I’m similarly stumbling and gasping for air. It’s a huge responsibility. I’m trying to push new strategies, new endeavors, new relationships, all while trying to keep track of the details of meeting times and email correspondences. I’ve tripped on plenty of rocks so far, and the peak we’re trying to reach is still a bit obscured by clouds, but I’m trying to remember the lessons from my last big hike. 

We’re doing something different here at Grotto this month — it’s the start of something new for us: we’re focusing on the stories that really matter, on content that will move your heart. And this month, we’re telling stories of people who’ve hit a wall, who’ve had the wind knocked out of them, whose lives have changed irrevocably. These are stories of great challenges, but most importantly, stories of great gratitude at being able to pick up the pieces and move ahead. 

We’re shifting our mode of storytelling in the month ahead by putting stories in dialogue with each other around the theme of gratitude in the face of hardship, and we hope you’ll join the conversation. Some of the stories are about really big (metaphorical) mountains that people have had to climb, but every one of us faces our own steep cliffs of doubt and despair, fear and insecurity, loneliness and anxiety. These are opportunities to grow — these are moments when we realize that we need the strength we find in God and each other to keep going. 

It’s a time to be thankful, so thank you for following along. 

—Javi Zubizarreta
Director, Grotto Network

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