As winter approaches and the weather gets colder, I find myself looking out the window a lot. I gaze at the beauty of nature, the bare trees and the leaves piling on the ground. I sometimes feel melancholy. Maybe it’s the time of year, maybe the time of life.
I gaze out at the serene setting, and suddenly there’s a bolt of movement. A huge black-and-white magpie flies by or a deer appears and stares me in the eye.
Through these unexpected encounters I feel alive and connected to a life stream so much larger than myself. I cherish this unexpected shift in perception, when I look at the so-called ordinary and suddenly see with new eyes, with expanded vision. It’s whole-body vision, the synesthesia of seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling at the same time.
It’s like a window opens and in pours the light, or the full moon bursts out from behind the clouds. In that state, extraordinary things happen:
- Seeing the possibility of peace in the midst of conflict.
- Feeling the gratitude for this gift of life.
- A friend showing up to say just what you needed to hear.
- The book falling off the shelf with information and inspiration you crave.
- Taking the phone call or meeting that changes the course of your day—or life.
Such events can be viewed as random, coincidence, synchronistic, or a form of grace or blessing.
How does blessing work?
Is blessing intentional, or always in the moment? Sometimes in my morning meditation I visualize someone spontaneously and surround them in a circle of light. It might be a person, animal, situation, country, or any other possibility. There is no shortage of opportunities, but are they truly Blessing?
Then one day I read John O’Donohue’s definition of blessing from To Bless the Space between Us and felt a truth settle in my heart:
What is a blessing? A blessing is a circle of light drawn around a person to protect, heal, and strengthen. It would be infinitely lonely to live in a world without blessing. The word blessing evokes a sense of warmth and protection; it suggests that no life is alone or unreachable. Each life is clothed in raiment of spirit that secretly links it to everything else. Though suffering and chaos befall us, they can never quench that inner light of providence.
If blessing in the name of God doesn’t come naturally to you, bless with whatever you have going for you. Start with the breath and the life force that breathes you, beats your heart, and spins the planets. This is all at your fingertips—literally!
There is no ordination or religious affiliation necessary. Anyone and everyone can bless.
A whole-body blessing you can do throughout your day:
- Rub your hands together, then gently pull them apart and bring them together again. Feel the energy, the chi, the life force between them.
- Now, feel the cosmic energy from the sun, moon and stars come into your crown, at the very top of your head.
- Feel the earth energy come up through your feet.
- Feel all these energies swirl around your heart.
- With this energy of heaven and earth, internal and external, you can bless yourself, friends, family, and the world.
- Continue to bless, including people and entities you don’t know, even those you don’t like.
To quote Br. David Steindl-Rast, “The more alert we become to the blessing that flows into us through everything we touch, the more our own touch will bring blessing.”