Blessings

I live a blessed life, and the saying of that is not to brag or boast of it, but only to make the action: to say it.

It may seem strange to lose your parents and face other things that people would generally look on as incredibly unfavorable (like divorce) and still be able to say that one’s life is a blessing, but the reality is that life (my life) has always been blessed, and most of that has been the work of others.

Last night I saw an old friend at a rehearsal and at the end he said to our mutual friend, who drove me there, “Thanks for bringing back my prodigal daughter.”  I’ve lived an interesting life this way in which I became, from very early on, closer to adults than to my peers.  Now, of course, I am friends with many adults and I am one as well, but if you think that age disappears when you enter adulthood the fact is that age is more telling about the relationships you value in adulthood than it was in childhood.  I looked strange as a teenager hanging around the teachers for conversation, and it won me (to my everlasting humiliation) the Senior Dumb Award “Class Brown-nose” in high school.  My old history teacher pulled me aside afterwards and said, “They don’t know you very well, do they?  They never noticed that you may have been speaking to us, but you were almost always bringing up things you wanted to know about or even arguing with our information which comes from textbooks that are more than ten years old.  You weren’t a brown-nose in the traditional sense of the idea.”  But appearances without first-hand knowledge of a situation can often be deceiving.

As a nearly 30-year-old (one little month away) my close friends are mostly in their 40’s and 50’s or even older.  To be perfectly honest, my only true friends who are “my” age are three in number and I’m going to marry one in July.  The other people I love and cherish in my life are still years and years ahead of me in life experience and I realize now that this “life experience” is what made me gravitate to these people who tend to look at me (I sense) in terms of someone who could be one of their children, and I like that.

I enjoy looking at the world as though it were filled with members of my family: a family I wove together out of what begins with respect for their experience and knowledge and which very often deepens (for me) into real love.

So the “prodigal daughter” comment gave me joy and started me thinking about the ways in which I have been blessed through my life with the love of people who are both my kin by blood and not.  I was writing a letter to my fiancé and in it I remarked that I never expected to find someone (especially after a divorce) who would love the things about me which I love about myself.  I continued with the thought that it’s a special blessing I could never repay, which led me into a last realization which I wanted to share here.

I no longer think that one can repay blessings.

I’ve only just realized that the mortal world is caught up in a model of “give, take, debt and repay” that runs counter to the nature of most spiritual practices at work in our cultures.  Blessings are given and taken, but there is no repaying a blessing.  No act of man could reach back to the heart of a blessing and repay something of that magnitude, and that is the way blessings are supposed to be accepted.

Now let me not confuse people when I say the word “magnitude”.  We have all been touched (or I should say most of us) by both quiet and momentous blessings and we know them when they come into our lives because of that past participle up there: touched.  Blessings reach into our lives and touch the living marrow of our beings.  I do not care if you would like to call it soul or consciousness, but blessings are real because of how they both touch and move us.  Some portion of our minds and collective awareness is altered by interacting with blessings, and that is mostly because those come from other people.  I want to introduce here the concept of “potential energy” for you to bear in mind to the end of the post.

In a time following a horrendous occurrence here in the US, I want to say loudly and affirmatively that people are blessings in action.  We are all aware that humanity can be a curse in action, but when I take the advice of Bing Crosby in that song Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep I know that I am counting the times people reached into my life and blessed me by being a part of it.  Last Sunday I heard what I believe was the very best sermon I’ve heard in almost 30 years on this Earth.  As you might expect, the priest spoke of last Friday in conjunction with the scheduled lesson.  The lesson was about love.  I say again:

The entire lesson was about love.

At one point in the sermon the priest stated something that has been resonating with me ever since, and I think this idea will live with me for the rest of my life.

“In many ways, indifference is worse than hate.  If you hate someone then you are at least thinking about the person, but if you are indifferent to them…”

I have learned the truth of this over the last two years, but I want to move forward from this statement into another level of thinking about indifference.  Many people of my acquaintance and many of my former students have heard me say that I think the most dangerous sentence in English is “I don’t care.”  Now I’m not talking about what children say to their parents to try to allay their own awful sense that they do care and they cannot help caring to the extreme about what is happening.  I am talking about the real thing.

It is when a person stops caring that they move from being a potential blessing in life to being a potential curse.  Neither curses nor blessings are accidents.  We have experience with accidentally hurting others and with coincidentally benefitting them.  We are, every moment of our conscious lives in society, a potential for blessing and a potential for its opposite, but being one or the other requires a decision to either love the other or to be indifferent to their needs as a human.

I’ll close this very long-winded post with the following reordering of some ideas.

I’m often told that I have a musical gift or that I’ve been blessed with the gift of music.  What people are often referring to is something that they believe is innate.  But those people did not stand next to my father who watched me practice every day for an hour, nor did they hear me complain to him when he would insist that I go back to a passage.  Nor did these well-meaning souls hear my mother call to me when I would rush, “Rebecca, it cannot be a melody if it doesn’t sing.  When you rush through it there is no music left.”  I have no innate blessings.  I came into two gifts at the beginning of my life: my parents.  They, in turn, went on to do most of the blessing until that huge family of beautiful people who decided to continually bless me began to emerge as I grew up.  As we approach the holidays, think about the things you believe people are blessed with and then ask yourself if it was something they were conscious in the making of.  If it was conscious then it was a blessing, but if it was genetic then it’s a biological accident/roulette wheel.  Real blessings cannot be repaid because they require neither debt nor sacrifice.

Only presence and love.

This time of year I remember Mom working on something for Christmas in the house while they played their many tapes or CD’s of Christmas carols and one of the ways I was blessed was to watch Daddy suddenly whirl Mama around and start dancing with her to one of these tunes.  She never resisted and always wore the same smile.  It was a blessing to see that smile because it said, “I love you.” as much as their dancing did.  Now when I listen to songs like this I think of them dancing together in Heaven this Christmas.

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~ by Rebecca Erickson on December 20, 2012.

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