Wednesday, November 20, 2013


As Thanksgiving approaches I think about gratitude for the many blessings in my life.  One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories is my mother giving me a framed poem about the blessings of friendship and all the kinds of friends who enrich our lives.

Last night as my spiritual reading group discussed Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly, we got to talking about how we sometimes think our lives are so terrible but in fact, a little perspective (a typhoon in the Philippines, tornados in Ilinois) is all it takes to make us count our blessings.  Brown’s book, which focuses on shame and how it keeps us from connecting with one another, reminded me of the blessings of belonging and relationship.

Today, cleaning out some files, I was confronted by blessings again, this time in an article reprinted from My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.  She has some beautiful and insightful things to say about blessings, and I thought I’d share them. 

Remen calls blessings “a moment of awakening in which one remembers the holy nature of the world… [and] heaven and earth meet and greet and recognize one another.”    Blessing one another can be as simple as a smile or an offer of help or compassionate listening. 

I absolutely love her distinction between prayer and blessings: “[A] prayer is about our relationship to God; a blessing is about our relationship to the spark of God in one another…When we bless others, we offer them refuge from an indifferent world.”  But a blessing “is not something that one person gives another,” it is more reciprocal than that.  “A blessing is a moment of meeting, a certain kind of relationship in which both people involved remember and acknowledge their true nature and worth, and strengthen what is whole in one another.” 

“When someone blesses you, it reminds you a little—untying the knots of belief and fear and self-doubt that have separated you from your own goodness.  Freeing you to bless and receive blessings from everything around you.”

Remen and I share a fondness for the Indian greeting of blessing, NAMASTE: The divine in me greets the divine in you.  We’d be doing well to remember this concept as we pass each other in our busy days, and we will all be enriched by the effort.