I want to write something for you today, dear readers. I want it to be wise or gentle or provocative or joyful or challenging or peaceful. Or maybe it can be all of that at once – whatever you need it to be.
I want it to stir something in you, to touch a tender part of you, to make you feel less alone, to awaken your passion. I want it to sparkle with originality, to shine with inspiration, to bubble with truth.
I want my words to create a warm cave for you to crawl into, where you will feel cozy and safe. Or maybe they can be a torch that you will carry with you when you step into dark places. Or perhaps a buffet table overflowing with goodness that will nourish and delight you.
What do you need today, dear reader? I want my words to offer you a little of that.
I am sitting by my window, watching yellow leaves flutter in the breeze, hoping inspiration will land in my heart and make its way to my fingertips. I want this because I want to send you a gift, with your name embossed on it, to remind you that we are connected and there is a thread that stretches from my heart to yours. To remind you that whatever you are going through, there is another person, perhaps on the other side of the world, who’s thinking of you and wanting goodness for you.
But today the words aren’t coming. Today there is only the dappled sunlight through the leaves. Today there is a mother on the sidewalk tugging her small son behind her in a blue wagon. Today there is this cozy blanket keeping my bare feet warm. Today there is the silence of a home without daughters. Today there are geese flying over my house to their winter homes in the south. Today there are feathery clouds in a blue sky and squirrels gathering provisions for the winter.
So, today, I will sit here in this gentle moment and send you kindness that doesn’t need to be wrapped in words. I will send you hope and peace and a little of the magic I see outside my window. I will send you the courage and fortitude of the geese who have so far to travel. I will send you the joy of the little boy in the blue wagon. I will send you the resilience and resourcefulness of the squirrels gathering what they need for darker times. I will send you the peacefulness of the tree releasing its leaves to settle into the long rest of winter.
I will sit here in this sunlight and hope that some of the light will bounce off me and be reflected in your direction.
And I will hope that you, like the squirrels, can gather some of the goodness buried under my meagre words and store it up to feed you in the lean months.
I was running on my favourite path by the river, listening to a podcast interview with Sylvia Boorstein, when she said something that nearly stopped me dead in my tracks. As part of a guided meditation, she said “Now offer yourself a blessing.”
Offer myself a blessing? Really? I had no idea how to do that! What would I bless myself with?
I love offering blessings. I do it often for friends, writing a list of things I wish for them as they enter a new phase of their life, celebrate a birthday, go through struggles, etc. If I can’t come up with something myself, I’ll offer them one of my favourites from John O’Donohue‘s book To Bless the Space Between Us. I even offer my students a blessing at the end of almost every session or workshop I teach.
Blessing people I care about? Easy-peasy. Because I love them and want the best for them. There was a time, in fact, when I offered people Twitter blessings – a wish for your day in 140 characters or less.
I also love being blessed by others. I feel fortunate that I have received, for example, a Hindu blessing from a woman in a tiny village in India, and an Orthodox blessing from a priest in an ancient church in Ethiopia. Blessings are powerful things that can carry us a long way.
But offering a blessing for myself? Honestly – I didn’t have a clue how to do that. AND it had never occurred to me that I should. And yet… I love myself don’t I? And doesn’t the Bible teach us to “love our neighbours as ourselves”? To love them (and to bless them), I first have to love myself.
As soon as I heard Sylvia Boorstein say it though, I knew that it was something I needed to learn how to do. I need to bless myself.
I need to believe that I am worthy of being blessed just like I believe my friends and family are worthy. I need to offer myself the same compassion and kindness that I am willing to offer those I love.
Sylvia suggested the following blessing, and I’m trying to offer it to myself at least once a day. I may even print it and hang it by my bed so I see it first thing in the morning.
May I feel safe.
May I feel happy.
May I feel strong.
May I live with ease.
Just now, laying on the couch in the middle of the night because I woke up with a stress ball in my stomach, I put my hand on my heart and said it aloud. It feels kind of powerful.
On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.
And when your eyes
The gray window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colors,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
In the curragh of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.
– John O’Donohue