An Invitation to Bless
Listening closely, we can hear how similar they sound, the words blessing and blood. Blessing, rightly understood, is the invisible bloodstream pulsating through the universe-alive and life-giving. "Just to live is holy," says the great Jewish sage Abraham Joshua Heschel. "Just to be is a blessing."
"Bless what there is, for being." Whatever it be, bless it because it exists; you need no other reason. With those words the poet W. H. Auden summarizes "the singular command" with which the universe confronts us humans. Each page of this book invites you in a different way to rise to this challenge and "bless what there is for being."
For three months or so, I wrote these blessings down-one each day-blessing whatever happened to come to my mind, from insects to the Internet, from friendship to fresh linen. I resisted the temptation to "improve" them later; they stand here as they ﬂowed from my pen. You might open the book at random and let yourself be surprised, or you might read these blessings-maybe one a day-in the order in which they were written. You might want to check the index of keywords and pick the blessing you need at the moment. I wish for you that you become aware of how greatly you yourself are blessed and eager to pass your blessings on. Passing them on is what counts. Blessings are life-giving only as long as we pass them on. The waters of the river Jordan can teach us much about blessing: Fresh and refreshing, they leap down from the Lebanon Mountains, ﬁll the Sea of Galilee to the brim, and make its shores an image of Paradise. Gardens, vineyards, and orchards are heavy with fruit and produce, and the lake itself teems with ﬁsh. Then these waters ﬂow on, the Jordan continues, ending in the Dead Sea. What a difference here: The shores are barren desert, and no ﬁsh can survive in the briny water. But isn't it the same water? Yes, is the answer, indeed, it is the same water of blessing. But where blessing ﬂows in and passes on, everything comes alive; where it ﬂows only in and stops, it stagnates.
This accounts for the pattern of each blessing in this little book, ﬁrst expressing delight in a blessing received, following with a resolution to pass it on. And this pattern is repeated over and over.
Repetition is the way time mirrors the eternal Now. Repetition with slight differences never fails to thrill our sense of beauty-a theme with variations in music, even a row of weathered fence posts along a paddock. Maybe our memory of the ﬁrst sound that ever struck our budding ears in infancy, our mother's heartbeat when we were still daydreaming in her womb, gave us this love for repetition. And maybe the ﬁrst stirring, then, of what would later mature into awe accounts for the important role that repetition plays in incantations and blessings. Allow yourself to feel its magic power. Ninety-nine times you will ﬁnd it repeated here; the hundredth time I give you only the pattern for you to ﬁll in some blessing that you welcome and want to pass on. Once you discover the joy this pattern can trigger, you will want to repeat it not just a hundred but innumerable times.
May this patchwork quilt of blessings help to sharpen your taste for the gift of life in its innumerable facets. May you grow ever more blessed, ever more able to bless.
1S O U R C E O F A L L B L E S S I N G S ,you bless us with w i n d .Gentle or fierce, warm and humidor icy or hot and dry, may itcaress my skin and make it tingle,refresh my spirit and make it wideawake so that I might to passon lightheartedness to everyoneI meet.
2S O U R C E O F A L L B L E S S I N G S ,you bless us with b r e a t h .In and out, in and out, everrenewing us, ever anew making usone with all who breathe the sameair, may this blessing overf lowinto a shared gratefulness, so thatwith one breath I may praise andcelebrate life.
3S O U R C E O F A L L B L E S S I N G S ,you bless us every moment withcountless h i d d e n t h i n g s onwhich our well- being depends,though we will never know them—from the water veins hidden deepin the earth to the bacteria thathelp us digest our food. May I passon blessings unnoticed for thewell- being of all.
4S O U R C E O F A L L B L E S S I N G S ,you bless us with f l e e t i n ge n c o u n t e r s—m oments whenour path crosses just once with thatof another, whether the man whoholds a door open with a smile,the receptionist who offers us akind word, or the child skippingpast us in the park. May theseblessings find me awake, alert, andready to pass on their gratuitoussparkle by a sparkle in my own eye.
5S O U R C E O F A L L B L E S S I N G S ,you bless us with d r e ams—dreams while we sleep and dreamsin our most wakeful moments.May I be responsive to both formsof dreams and pass these blessingson by living a life that is faithful totheir guidance.