#97 – The Practice of Blessing Each Moment

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:

Amaryllis*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

Gentleman-of-Moscow
Available from Penguin/Random House

*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).

Cancer-Centre
Photo by Andy Tapel

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:

  1. 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!
  2. Do you think focusing on “gifts and graces already present” denies “life’s lamentation”?  Why or why not?

Next Week: TBA

 

 

9 thoughts on “#97 – The Practice of Blessing Each Moment

  1. Beautifully and invitingly written. I may try just it – in a more intentional way than I have till now.

    Muriel Bechtel
    515 Langs Dr., Unit J,
    Cambridge, ON
    N3H 5E4
    Home telephone: 519-219-3344
    Cellphone: 226-338-6915

    Every sunrise brings the promise of a new beginning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I came across your blog via a Facebook friend posting a link. It interested me because we share a common disease: cancer. I am glad you include the Cancer Centre in things you are grateful for. I both love and fear that place. Mostly I love it because despite the gravity of the health challenges it is an overwhelmingly positive space, made so by the dedication of everyone: the volunteers, the clerks, the cleaners, the blood drawers, the chemo nurses, radiology technicians and the oncologists.

    I also love sitting and yes waiting with my fellow cancer travellers. We all bring different beliefs; social, economic and cultural backgrounds to this space and cancer disrupts all of that. It is the great equalizer. Even people who have led the most charmed lives get cancer. And here we are all receiving the best possible care our community has to offer.

    This has made it possible for me to live and welcome many more sunrises. My husband and I often talk about how he would be bankrupt and I would be dead by now if we lived in the US. As an independent contractor he would have had the most precarious of health insurance coverage.

    We also reflect on the nature of mutual aid. On my many visits to the Cancer Centre I almost always see Old Order and Amish people. Even though they reject OHIP on the grounds that their own communities provide mutual aid, they too are are brought into the larger community of human beings by cancer. All of us who receive cancer treatment are the beneficiaries of the most marvellous of mutual aid. I am so grateful to my fellow Canadians who have made it possible for me to continue walking on this good and beautiful earth.

    Wishing you well on your continued travels.

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    1. This is such a thoughtful and heart-felt reflection that I can only say “thank you!” Cancer is indeed a great equalizer, and brings all who are touched by it into “the larger community of human beings.”
      The Cancer Centre has somehow fostered an amazing culture of competence with caring.
      Thanks for writing, and I wish you well also on your continued travels.
      Sue

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  3. Thanks for passing this gift of suggestion along (with the humour of self-evaluation). It certainly can be applied to the aging process, both the lamentations and the graces.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Sue:

    Thank you for your very meaningful blog. I look forward to receiving it each week.

    I am part of a women’s bible study group at Steinmann and we are currently studying April Yamasaki’s book “Four Gifts”. Your blog posting for this past Friday spoke very well to what we talked about last week when we met. If it is OK with you I would like to share it with the rest of the women in the group.

    Thanks, Esther Kennel

    On Fri, Feb 22, 2019 at 7:03 AM A Nourished Spirit by Sue Steiner wrote:

    > suecsteiner posted: “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 o” >

    Like

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