July 6–Blessings: The Experience

Do you know when you have been blessed?  Do you have a certain feeling or experience that you would associate with having received a blessing?

Let’s put aside for a moment the question of where blessings come from–perhaps save that for another day’s reflection.  I will only remark about that here:  there is a traditional notion that a blessing is something that someone with some special (usually religious) power can give you.  The blessing may be bestowed by a touch or a gesture or with some other vehicle (water, oil, etc).  That’s for another day.  I want to ask about the experience of blessing.

When it becomes clear through any number of ways that a group of people have accepted me, I feel what I would say is “a blessing.”  It is a feeling of acceptance, of inclusion, of belonging.  It is, as we say in our services a feeling of “being home.” I also think that it is what is called in other circles both spiritual and anthropological, the feeling of having a tribe, a people who are “my people.”

When I am suffering from some internal conflict and a writer or, better, a live person begins to describe that very same internal conflict with a personal knowing about how it feels, I experience what I would say is “a blessing.”  It is the experience of “to know and to be known.”  It is a recognition of one in another, and it is a brilliant sign that I am not alone with this internal conflict.  Someone else understands.

With just these two examples, I can see some things about how I experience blessing. First, some sort of suffering is required, and they both seem to include the feeling of isolation or the despair of being alone.  Second, they both require the action/response of other beings. (I started to write “human beings” but too many times a dog in my life has crawled into a chair with me and nuzzled me into the canine tribe of acceptance).  Third, both of my examples of the experience of blessing–what blessing feels like–are like being surrounded, lifted and carried by the generosity of others.

That leads me to one more insight:  if the experience of blessing is something that I can receive from others, it is also something that I might have a hand in giving to others.

So, for today, recall those times when you have truly experienced what you would call a blessing.  This is not what you THINK a blessing is.  This is how you experience what you might call being blessed or receiving a blessing.  What does it feel like?  When does it happen?  What’s going on before, during and after this experience?

Bob Patrick

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