With the goal of sharing ideas and inspiring change, Green Renaissance produces gorgeous short films that uplift the personal stories of ordinary people. Every two weeks over the coming months, we’ll feature one of the stories that filmmakers Michael and Justine so beautifully capture and that illustrate gratefulness through the ordinary revealed as extraordinary. In this short film we hear from Gert and Bettie.
In this video, Gert and Bettie speak to the fact that struggles, loss, and pain are part of life, and that we can approach the tough times with a perspective that helps us move forward. They remind us that when we begin to turn toward the things that we cherish, the world opens to reveal that there is always some small thing for which we can be grateful.
Learn more about Green Renaissance through our Grateful Changemaker feature.*
What moved you most about Gert and Bettie’s story?
What are some steps, even small ones, you might take to make peace with your past?
We invite you to share your reflections below the video transcript that follows.
Gert: For seven years we had no rain. You could say that the earth was burnt bare. At one stage, I thought we’d have no livestock left. Those were hard times.
Gert: We no longer read the signs in nature, like our ancestors did. My father noticed that when the moon was lying on its back, we would get rain..the rains would come.
Bettie: My mother taught me about the ants. I asked her why the ants were so busy. She told me they were gathering and storing food before the rains came. When the ants are busy then we know that rain is only two days away.
Gert: Last year the rain finally arrived. Then there is life, then there is life.
Gert: This is a beautiful place when the rain falls. Our world is covered in a blanket of colorful flowers. Your eyes can’t take it all in.
Bettie: In the morning I love to look outside at the beauty of nature. It is so beautiful. The birds are singing because they are happy for the fresh morning air. You’ve come through the snow and the cold of the winter months and here is the warmth once again. There is life, there is hope.
Bettie: Everything has its own time and its own seasons. Things don’t always go well. My son passed away in 2010. And my husband died in 2012. It was a very difficult time, and I was distraught. My heart was heavy. I felt empty inside… as if I was cut off from the world. Life didn’t make any sense.
Gert: These are my better days…not my younger days….definitely not my younger days. Ask me about drinking…ask me about drinking. I drank and I drank and I drank. Those were not easy times. But I never gave up hope.
Bettie: I still had a lot of love to give and I got a second chance. When Gert and I met, I had an emptiness inside me and he filled that space because he cared deeply for me. That’s the biggest secret because if you don’t care for someone then you don’t have love. To experience love is something Gert had never had. Nobody cared for him. Nobody was there for him. That is why I reached out to him. So that he no longer continued to live in the past, that he could rise up from his past. And love is a foundation which makes you stronger.
Gert: This woman is worth her weight in gold to me. She saved my life…without her I would have drowned. I’m a man since she came into my life…now I’m a man.
Bettie: To achieve something in life, you need to work for it. I’m always amazed by the little birds..how do they build their nests? He fetches feathers and sticks to build his home.
Bettie: And the bird is just a little creature, and we’re so much bigger. I must move forward with life. If I just sit around I won’t achieve anything. We must work like the little birds do. If you just sit and do nothing, you can’t expect to have a home. I wouldn’t say that I am rich because I don’t have much. When I eat a slice of bread I am grateful that I have something to eat because there are those who are hungry and have no food to eat. I sometimes think to myself that I have a tough time, but then you see others who are even worse off and suddenly my troubles seem insignificant. The less I have, the more I appreciate what I have.
Gert: You can’t want for too much in life. I am grateful for the smallest of things. I don’t understand why people need so many clothes, what they do with so many plates, knives, and forks. Even if someone gave me a lot of money, what would I do with it? You may be rich, but without your health you have nothing. I am grateful just for my health.
Gert: Time moves on, time moves on…that’s the truth. Don’t waste a moment of your life. You can’t turn back time… no you can’t. You need to move forward with it. You can’t change the past, so you need to make peace with it. I am fulfilled, I am very happy. I have nothing to complain about. I am at peace. I am at peace.
To support Michael and Justine in their film-making journey visit Green Renaissance.
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I was very inspired by this story this video. It speaks to me of patience, hope, and gratitude for the small yet large things in life. Finding someone to love brings out our love and our life feels worth living. Whether it is a pet or the birds in the yard. Loving is life. I need to make peace with the past. Life is too short and precious to spend it with regrets and remorse about the past. “I cannot change the past but I can make peace with it.” I also have too many posessions (which posess me). Simple living and gratitude for my breath, my eyes, ears, mouth, hands, brain and heart. Cool breezes, shade, a slice of bread. My father always said that he needed only one knife, fork, spoon, glass, bowl, and cup. When I need to have more gratitude, I think of refugees with no home, no heat, no fresh water. Then I realize the countless blessings I have. Thank you for this. I am grateful.
I am deeply moved and inspired by their work ethic and their devotion and appreciation for one another. Their grief and struggles did not destroy them. Their renaissance gives me hope.
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