A blessing is not something that one person gives another. A blessing is a moment of meeting, a certain kind of relationship where both people involved remember and acknowledge their true nature and worth, and strengthen what is whole in one another. By making a place for wholeness within our relationships we offer others the opportunity be whole without shame and become a place of refuge from everything in them and around them that is not genuine. We enable people to remember who they are.
I first learned to do this from people who were dying, people who had moved into a more authentic relationship with those around them because only that which was genuine still had meaning for them. These people had let go of the ways that they had changed themselves to win approval and so they made it safe for others to remove their masks as well. Their unwavering acceptance allowed me to remember something almost forgotten. In the presence of these people I realized that many of the ways I had changed myself had made me smaller and in some ways weaker. Parts of myself that I had judged and hidden for years were welcomed and even needed by those who were dying. I had felt the life in me blessed by such people; felt it expand to become its real size and shape and power, unashamed. It was a long time before I realized that you do not have to be dying in order to bless others in this way.
Those who bless and serve life find a place of belonging and strength, a refuge from living in ways that are meaningless and empty and lonely. Blessing life moves us closer to each other and closer to our authentic selves. When someone is blessed they may discover that their life matters, that there is something in them worthy of blessing. And when you bless others you may discover this same thing is true about yourself.
We do not serve the weak or the broken. What we serve is the wholeness in each other and the wholeness in life…Remembering this may require us to confront the core values of our culture.
We are a culture that values mastery and control, that cultivates self-sufficiency, competence,
independence. But in the shadow of these values lies a profound sense of isolation from our human wholeness. As individuals and as a culture we have developed a sort of contempt for anything in ourselves and in others that has needs, and is capable of suffering. It is not a gentle world.
As life becomes colder and somehow harder, we struggle to create places of safety for ourselves and those we love though our learning, our skills, our income. We build places of security in our homes and our offices and even our cars. These places separate us from one another. Places that separate people can never be safe enough. Perhaps our only refuge is in the goodness in each other.
In a highly technological world we may forget our own goodness and place value instead on our skills and our expertise. But it is not our expertise that will repair the world. Perhaps the future may depend less on our expertise than on our connection to one another and to life.
© Rachel Naomi Remen, MD
From “My Grandfather’s Blessings”