Blessing. Benediction. Benison. In Old Irish, beannacht. In Swahili, baraka.
I have been thinking a lot lately about the act of blessing, of passing on the blessing, of sharing benediction with each other. Such churchy words, eh? Don’t let that distract from their universal power.
This evening I watched my incredible niece give her senior presentation at her school, a somewhat daunting rite of passage that requires each student to give a 20-minute presentation on herself (or himself), her goals and ideals, her personal story. My niece focused a great deal of her presentation on her family and her community, and it was clear that this is a young person who is grounded in her connections to others, who finds meaning in relationship and conversation and interaction. I am a very proud auntie.
While the senior presentation is a rite of passage designed to challenge the students to express who they are, where they have come from, and where they are headed, it was clear that a vital role of the whole process was to have a moment to bless each student individually. This was a ritual of benediction. The students, in telling their stories, receive from their teachers and gathered family and friends a sense of the importance and vitality of their own stories. They are now empowered with the sacred duty to fulfill their destinies, to find meaning in their lives.
I know people who do this in their everyday story, effortlessly and “unshowily,” humbly: constantly passing blessings on to those around them, to the people they meet. Un-self-consciously offering to others that sense of purpose and connection to something bigger than themselves. The way these people treasure the stories they are offered makes the story-teller feel validated and blessed, as thought they, too, now have a sacred task before them.
1. My marvelous niece Lara. And all my incredible nieces and nephews.
5. Winter aconite
May we walk in Beauty!