The late, great Irish poet and theologian John O' Donohue describes a blessing as "a circle of light dawn around a person to protect, heal and strengthen." This is such a lovely image that offers comfort as well as a clue to how we can transform our pain into hope. We don't have to be ordained in a traditional role or receive religious training in order to administer a blessing. What if exactly who and how and where you are in this moment was the perfect opportunity to bestow a blessing?
Have you ever been in the presence of another and felt this quality of warmth and light? Did you feel how you were receiving a blessing through their particular quality of attention or the way they spoke to you or rested a hand on your shoulder or even hugged you in just the right way? It is truly a wonderful and miraculous experience that we can easily take for granted or miss entirely because we have closed ourselves off from this authentic form of connection. Perhaps you have been the one to bless another through your loving listening, spontaneous affection, or quiet prayer. . .
Every day we will meet some form of suffering--in ourselves or another human being. The question of how we meet this suffering and what we can do about it becomes a vital inquiry that we are called to respond to in ways that are helpful, hopeful and healing. Instead of thinking that we need to have answers or solutions to every difficulty, maybe we could simply practice the art of blessing. It could be a silent blessing or a smile blessing or a touch blessing or a written blessing or a fresh flower blessing. The avenues of expression are endless. How we offer the blessing isn't as important as our intention to bless.
I believe that the ability to bless is a true form of power and alchemy that we each possess if we choose to utilize this resource within our being.
I recently ended a yoga class by asking everyone to place their hands over their heart and offer themselves a blessing. I guided each person to imagine this circle of light around themselves and to ask for the blessing that they most longed to receive: for the health of their body, peace of mind, freedom from a particular worry or fear, or any concern that was most troubling. It's only when we are able to receive the blessing for ourselves that we can naturally offer it to others.
Consider this latent super power that you possess: to bless and be a blessing. Contemplate how you can be a blessing in your various roles and relationships. Do you have a heart that is available to receive the blessings that are being offered to you? Create a simple ritual each morning before you leave the house to take a moment to bless yourself and really feel that you have been gifted with a special blessing. Then ask to be a blessing for another. Silently bless each person you see. Remain open to the opportunities to offer protection, strength or healing to someone else in any way that feels genuine.
Notice the blessing bearers in your life. Appreciate, love and cherish them. Do not take lightly those that gift this kind of grace, as O'Donohue says:
It is such a privilege to have people who continue each day to bless us with their love and prayer. These inner friends of the heart confer on us inestimable gifts. In these times of greed and externality, there is such unusual beauty in having friends who practice profound faithfulness to us, praying for us each day without our ever knowing or remembering it. There are often lonesome frontiers we could never endure or cross without the inner sheltering of these friends. It is hard to live a true life that endeavors to be faithful to its own calling and not become haunted by the ghosts of negativity, therefore, it is not a luxury to have such friends; it is necessary.
May the immeasurable beauty and belonging of blessing meet each of us in the particular way we most need. May we remain faithful to the calling to respond in kind. May we be continuously grateful.
Bless you. Bless you. Bless you.
"You might ask yourself: 'Can I imagine what it would be like, in this moment, to have a heart that is ready for anything?'
If our hearts are ready for anything, we are free to be ourselves. There's room for the wildness of our animal selves, for passion and play. There's room for our human selves, for intimacy and understanding, and for creativity and productivity. There's room for spirit and for the light of awareness to suffuse our moments. The Tibetans describe this confidence to be who we are as 'the lion's roar.'" ~Tara Brach
I feel like I've traveled a long distance to reach this year. I want to arrive on its doorstep empty and let it fill me with all of its perfectly curated experiences. I know better than to try and plan my life out in detail. Instead, I will prepare myself for anything while I sketch the contours of feeling that I want to explore more deeply in my everyday life. I'll take my time, move at a sustainable pace and sit quietly with each day until I am sure of my direction; clear about the assignment. I'm going to simplify everything until it feels like just enough.
Three promises: I promise to be my best self, for myself, first. I promise to be gentle. I promise to keep my heart open and undefended. I believe the sacred guardians of this year already know the secret prayers of my heart and the tireless longing that beckons me forward everyday. Many things will be asked of me and I will step up. When I feel tempted to complain I'll count my gratitudes out loud. I'll use doubt as sign to wait for a clear "yes." I will always be looking for the signs.
I know that I am one of those who have been given the rare and precious opportunity to truly begin again. Second chances are rationed blessings and I'm not sure why I got one, but thank you. Already, you feel so bright and beautiful to me; new yet familiar. Help me to accept more when it is in my highest interest and to refuse it when it will diminish my soul. May I listen closely for my lion's roar and let it be the mantra that transforms my life. Thank you in advance for what you will deal and reveal.
I'm all in.
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