The Art of Blessing

holding hands

Last weekend on the podcast, Dan and Becky Allender challenged us to consider what new stories our lives might tell in 2018. Here, Mandy Hughes, a fellow with The Allender Center, writes about the art of blessing and how it can help foster light and life in the year ahead, even when darkness has felt absolute. This post originally appeared on the Artisan Clinical blog.

Every New Year’s Day, I drive home from Oklahoma to Illinois. As I drive, I take time to remember what the last year brought and to dream what the next year might bring.

This time, it was difficult to let myself remember.

As I struggled to make peace with a year marked by personal disquiet and global turmoil, I also struggled to imagine something better for the year ahead. Instead, I simply wished for kindness. Then I remembered the words of John O’Donohue: “Despite all the darkness, human hope is based on the instinct that at the deepest level of reality some intimate kindness holds sway. This is the heart of blessing.”

One gift of my Irish heritage is the ancient art of blessing. Some believe the act of blessing has power to call forth new possibilities, to carry us over the boundaries between old and new, and to infuse us with protective and transformative grace. Some believe that when we bless, we actually create something new.

Sometimes the darkness seems too overwhelming to imagine any light will break through—but I like to imagine the light wants to find us; I like to imagine the light is blessing us, calling us across thresholds from death to life, from loss to fullness, from old to new. And I like to imagine that when we bless each other, we create new light, too.

So, to all who are weary of remembering and of dreaming, I bless you:

When you know fear,
may you trust someone big enough to hold you.

When you know powerlessness,
may you hope for that which brings your soul alive.

When you know heartache,
may you also know you are loved more than you even dare to imagine.

And when you know darkness,
may you find the courage to embrace your own light—
and set the world on fire.