by Karen Horneffer-Ginter, Ph.D.
In his book, “To Bless the Space Between Us,” John O’Donohue describes an experience he had when he was a young priest visiting a group of nuns. He was asked by one of the older women to offer her a blessing. After he finished, he knelt down in front of her, and similarly asked her for a blessing. She was completely taken aback by this because, apparently, no one had ever asked her for such a thing.
This interaction inspired O’Donohue to reflect on how odd it is to live in a world where some people, but not all people, feel worthy of offering blessings. To change this inequity, he encourages all of us to rediscover our power to bless one another.
I’ve become enchanted with this invitation, regardless of whether we define a blessing as being a wish or a prayer, whether we perceive it as coming from us or through us, or whether we offer blessings though what we say, write, or think. It’s also struck me that when we serve as a care provider to others, we offer them a blessing of sorts with every action we complete and every task we perform. Sometimes, however, it can be helpful to consciously conceive of what we’re doing as being a blessing. As we make and serve a meal, we can be present with our intention: “May this offer you strength and healing.” As we drive someone to an appointment and sit with them in the waiting room, we can connect with our hope: “May you feel my love and support.”
Regardless of whether we share such blessings out loud, or simply hold them as thoughts in our mind, connecting with our positive intentions can feel uplifting, especially amidst the swirl of other emotions we might experience given the complexity of taking care of another. It’s also important to include ourselves in our blessings, possibly starting the day with a kind thought: “May I find unexpected joy in what I’m doing today and may I find the courage I need to show up fully.”
Experiment with what it feels like to take John O’Donohue’s advice. As you think about this idea, see what phrases come to mind—what feels like just the right blessing to offer today?
Karen Horneffer-Ginter, Ph.D. is the author of “Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit,” newly released from Hay House and available for purchase at bookstores, including Amazon.