Dear Sor Juana,
Trying to walk in this world as a pilgrim I find I am blessed and blessing along the way. This week those steps have added to the end of one year of my life and the beginning of the next. The opportunity of a birthday to celebrate living on this earth and reflecting on who sojourns enables a deep breath in of love and a deep breath out of gratitude.
A blessing is a protection and a favour, an inoculation and a booster shot, a bounty of grace and gratitude. I am richly blessed and in my turn aim to bless. The greatest modern blesser I have encountered (although never met in person) is John O’Donohue. I join with many others around the world in being blessed by his gift to blessed. His friend David Whyte tells the story of how even a broken carburetor received a blessing from John to complete its restoration to health before enabling the passenger in the vehicle to continue on their way! I had the privilege of walking through his land a few years ago and to sing and hear sung on the lilting, drifting airwaves, The Beatitudes. (These stanzas are surely the blessing set of all blessing sets – good enough to be invoked by Christians around the world and the great nonviolent Hindu leader Gandhi said them everyday.) This encounter with the Celt, set me on course to step into blessings and to look for them in the landscape, in the voices, in the spaces between us.
The day of your birth being celebrated is one of those spaces – when the year that has past is closed down and farewelled, packed up with lessons to add to the next year and the new year is opened fresh and fertile with seeds sown in darkness waiting to be revealed. Here is John O’Donohue’s blessing for the day of your birth to support, protect and celebrate.
Blessed be the mind that dreamed the day
The blueprint of your life
Would begin to glow on earth,
Illuminating all the faces and voices
That would arrive to invite
Your soul to growth.
Praised be your father and mother,
Who loved you before you were,
And trusted to call you here
With no idea who you would be.
Blessed be those who have loved you
Into becoming who you were meant to be,
Blessed be those who have crossed your life
With dark gifts of hurt and loss
That have helped to school your mind
In the art of disappointment.
When desolation surrounded you,
Blessed be those who looked for you
And found you, their kind hands
Urgent to open a blue window
In the gray wall formed around you.
Blessed be the gifts you never notice,
Your health, eyes to behold the world,
Thoughts to countenance the unknown,
Memory to harvest vanished days,
Your heart to feel the world’s waves,
Your breath to breathe the nourishment
Of distance made intimate by earth.
On this echoing-day of your birth,
May you open the gift of solitude
In order to receive your soul;
Enter the generosity of silence
To hear your hidden heart;
Know the serenity of stillness
To be enfolded anew
By the miracle of your being.
John O’Donohue from his collection To Bless the Space Between Us