Blessing Our Lives

Today I would like to share a guest post and poem from my friend Christine Valters Paintner. Christine is the abbess of the Abbey of the Arts, a virtual monastery and global community, as well as a poet, a hermit, and a mystic. Christine has a wealth of life experience as well as formal education. You can read one of her previous guest posts on New Eden HERE and find her many wonderful books for sale HERE.

God bless you and keep you,
God smile on you and gift you,
God look you full in the face and make you prosper.

Numbers 6:24-26 (Translation from The Message)

Love be in my countenance,
Benevolence in my mind,
Dew of honey in my tongue,
    My breath as the incense.

Carmina Gadelica (excerpt from the “Invocation for Justice”)

Blessings can be like warm bread for the hungry, a cold drink for those who thirst. They can offer hope and encouragement, steep us in gratitude, nurture our courage. Blessings bring us present to the grace of each moment. The word comes from the Latin, benedicere, which means to speak well of. Blessings help to remind us of the love and beauty of the Holy One in our lives and assist us to take nothing for granted. They act as maps to navigate our human experience, orienting us back to gratefulness and praise.

In both Jewish and Celtic traditions, a central practice is to bless the unfolding of the day, each activity, each turning point. Everything becomes worthy of blessing. The Talmud calls for 100 blessings each day and through this practice we can shape ourselves into beings who pay close attention and who remember from whom all of life flows.

They sustain us in bringing reverence to all of life from the most ordinary of tasks to the great thresholds of our lives. They immerse us in the holy rhythms of the sacred which are not of our making. In a world obsessed with the scarcity of time, blessings help us to expand each moment like a flower opening her petals on a sunny day. They invite us to
breathe more deeply, enlarge our vision, and give honor to our experiences. Blessings help us to touch eternity here and now.

A blessing is an acknowledgment of the gifts and graces already present. All of the mundane activities of the day became opportunities to witness grace at work. They become meditations and remembrances.

When my calendar and to do lists become misplaced holy grails in my life, speaking a blessing is a way to put things back into perspective. When my heart aches and grieves over loss, a blessing is a sanctuary space within which I am held and met by the divine. St. Benedict wrote in the Prologue to his Rule, “Let us then at last arouse ourselves, even
as Scripture incites us in the words, ‘Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep.’ Let us then, open our eyes to the divine light, and hear with our ears the divine voice as it cries out to us daily. ‘Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts,’ and again, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.’” (RB Pro:8-11).

This image of awakening calls us to shake off the slumber which creates a veil between reality and our perception. The act of blessing helps us to awaken and see more clearly. When we remember to bless, we consecrate life whether we are in the kitchen, the office, in church, or standing in a forest. We remember to bless the hospital room, the prison cell, the homeless shelter. Blessing creates a wide canopy over the whole of our lives, holding beauty and sorrow together.

Blessing of the Elements

Wild Elemental One,
bless us through your gifts of wind, fire, water, and earth.
May we awaken to new life each dawn
and feel your holy breath sustaining us.

Let the breezes whisper their secrets
and the winds strip away what is no longer needed.
May we bless the sky with our reaching,
the clouds a witness to our becoming.

May we feel the living flame of love
burning in our hearts.
Let the sun warm and illumine us
and may the ash that remains
from the fire bring us new clarity.
May we bless the fire with our passion
letting all that sparks and kindles within
warm this world.

May we know the sea as our holy source
and the rivers and lakes carry us
toward our own unfolding.
Let the holy water of the wells
heal our broken places,
bringing us back to wholeness again.
May we bless the water of life,
yielding to its current, carrying us home.

May we bless Earth with our gratitude,
for the sweetness of every sip and bite.
Let the trees root us, let the mountains lift us.
May we endure like stone,
may we nourish like bread.

May the elements guide us on the way
to live more fully, to breathe deeply,
to ignite our longings, to follow the flow,
to create something which persists.

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