When I see this chapter title in a spirituality book – the practice of blessing each moment – I’m first of all skeptical. Blessing each moment?! Is this a way of pretending things are fine, when sometimes they’re not? Or of ignoring the hard realities of life?
At first blush, it sounds too much like “I’ve just hurt my finger, praise the Lord!”
But writer Christine Valters Paintner (CVP) explains the ancient Celtic practice of blessing each moment in a way that takes into account life’s realities for me:
“Blessing is really acknowledging the gifts and graces already present and entering into partnership with the divine ” (From chapter 4 of The Soul’s Slow Ripening). It’s not pretending that earth’s lamentation does not exist.
So I decided to try it for a few days…to acknowledge the gifts and graces already present and see what happens.
I found myself:
*enjoying my morning oatmeal while reading two newspapers
*reveling in the amaryllis with its four blooms after a month of dormancy and another of growth
*noticing the lovely snow settled on the trees in the thick bush on the way to the grocery store
*appreciating visits with friends old and new
* marveling at a sermon by a first-year university student
* eating a six-inch roasted chicken sub on honey multigrain bun
* rediscovering the hymn tune Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken among Haydn’s string quartets (Opus 76, No. 3, Emperor)
* Listening to rain hit our windows with a sizzle
*glimpsing the sun reflecting off houses in a far subdivision during the morning “golden hour”
*lying on the couch in the quiet of the evening, re-reading a perfectly delightful novel –A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
*being captivated once again by the old movie, A River Runs Through It
In my estimation, acknowledging such gifts and graces does not deny that we also live in the midst of earth’s lamentation. It does not prevent us from praying fervent prayers of lament ourselves from time to time, as did the Psalmist. The Psalms are full of both lament and exuberant praise.
Acknowledging our gifts and graces, says CVP, “helps us to be present to life as it actually is, rather than how we would like it to be…. We often hold so tightly on how we want things to be that we miss what is actually being offered” (also from chapter 4 of The Soul’s Slow Ripening).
In this spirit, I’ve found my trips to the Cancer Centre at Grand River Hospital transformed. Rather than focusing on “well, here we go again” or “I wonder what I’ll find out today,” I’ve found myself giving thanks for the Cancer Centre itself, and blessing the intake clerks, nurses, volunteers, oncologists, radiologists, pharmacists and others who work there.
This is “our place,” I tell myself. “It feels homey. I like the crackers. I know the routines. Things are usually more or less on schedule.” The competence and kindness of the staff I’ve experienced month after month is really quite astounding, and I am grateful.
Questions for Reflection:
- If you would make a list of “the gifts and graces already present” in the mundane events of your life over several days, what would your list include? Try it!
- Do you think focusing on “gifts and graces already present” denies “life’s lamentation”? Why or why not?
Next Week: TBA