Counting Blessings

While one may not be able to count something one doesn’t recognize or understand,  there are depths of meaning to this phrase, “count your blessings,” so maybe it applies whether one is secular or religious.

In some faiths, one is instructed to literally count or recount the blessings that one receives, and at special services, these might even be itemized, such as a blessing for food, for family, for peace. To one faith, a blessing is bestowed by God, and shows his favour, and in another, it is believed sufficient to be of that faith to receive or to be part of a collective “blessing upon mankind.” One major faith involves gifting to the representative deity or deities and receiving his or her blessing, or the priest may offer a blessing which might be to pass the special power of the specific deity to the individual. A blessing may come as a formal permission that the devotee requested, or it may come as a “wish for” or granted consent for a decision one makes in life.

Blessing in some churches is a term for marriage and in another sphere it is an initiation rite, and getting “blessed” by a security officer might be an unpleasant experience. The latter is the only use which I am not addressing. Some communities have the practice of blessing something new, such as a new structure, new garden, new church or temple.  Some faiths include a parental blessing for children, wishing them a healthy and happy, long life.

This is a very brief snapshot, but I am intrigued by the notion of “blessing” as a form of prayer, an act of faith, a moment of contemplation, an act of gratitude, a recitation of repeated, oft-used phrases that resonate with the user. Being blessed, giving or bestowing blessings, requesting blessings, or simply repeating one to oneself, seems to have a potency that inspires, reinforces, connects the blessed or blessor with something familiar, special, larger than life or, in my case, with life itself. I am learning what prayer is, and what power there is in a blessing.

My thinking is this-if everyone shared a blessing, or acknowledged the blessings we have in life, those things about which we often take little notice but which give us great pleasure, we would all be happier, less likely to be volatile or angry, and perhaps we’d be more attune to one another.  Here is a short list of things I feel gratitude for or “blessed with:”

A loving sister who has been witness to my life and shares my love of family;

Three children who inspire me;

Two cats who curl up in bed with me;

A job which uses and acknowledges my creativity and energy;

Colleagues who value me;

Friends who love me and whom I love;

A small garden in which to grow a few herbs;

My health which is potentially transient;

The sun in the morning and the moon at night;

A special love who enrichs my life;

People who give a sober second thought before speaking;

People who take time to be kind to one another;

An organization to be associated with that values individual and collective contributions;

Friends of many different faiths and secular friends too;

Grandparents who lived a long life and shared their wisdom;

Parents who loved me unconditionally;

Living in a democracy;

Flowers in my garden;

Fresh air when I open a window, more fresh air when I actually walk outside;

A mind that holds memories and an intellect that questions everything;

A sense of humour;

Friends with a sense of humour;

Bubbles in the bath;

Clean water to drink so I don’t need bottled water;

Coffee every morning;

A safe place to sleep;

A passport fromCanada;

Poetry and novels;

People who love poetry and novels;

Flat shoes and high heels;

Spicy food;

Art on the street;

Summer, autumn, winter and spring;

Dew on the grass;

A city with no mosquitoes;

Public transit;

Public galleries;

Public libraries;

Public parks;

Everyone who chooses to read my blog.

May you share the feeling of gratitude I experience every day and count your blessings too. If you are not yet feeling blessed, think kindly of yourself and share this blessing.

About modcpresident
I grew up in Calgary, where I completed a BA at the University of Calgary, then travelled and taught in Kenya and the Canadian Arctic during the heyday of Trudeaumania, hippie travel and social experimentation. I settled in Vancouver to complete a Master of Social Work degree at the University of British Columbia, and stayed another 8 years. After graduating I was a Social Planner and eventually became the Executive Director of the Social Planning and Research Council of BC. Ontario March of Dimes recruited me in 1981, the International Year of Disabled Persons and the 30th anniversary of the agency. It has grown from a budget of $5m in '81 to $100m in 2010. Services have expanded drafmatically. We incorporated a non profit housing corporation in 1992 and a national charity in 2001, and since 2006 the latter has operated as March of Dimes Canada. We own and operate several properties that provide accommodation and independent living services to 77 people in 4 municipalities and will add another property this year. Two other exciting non profit entities have been incorporated in my 30 years (yes, it has been 30 years!) and we expect to hold our first fundraiser in the US this year and to initiate our first service south of the border also. My role as President and CEO continues to be that of creating a vision, fulfilling the mission and developing strategic plans to meet an increasing demand for services from people with disabilities and their caregivers. This is achieved through direct service, advocacy and peer programs. On a personal note, I live with my 17 year old daughter and two cats, and enjoy their company a lot. My two adult sons are doing interesting exploration in their own lives and I am intrigued with how they are progressing. In my spare time, I have various volunteer roles on several non profit boards and committees, and enjoy creating programs for building awareness of diversity and disability. I think it has become true for me that youth is, while not "wasted on the young," something that I appreciate more with age. Adventures are physically more challenging for me now, so they have to occur in new dimensions.

3 Responses to Counting Blessings

  1. Thank you for blessing me with this piece – a time to reflect, to be still and count my blessings!

  2. Francis Fung says:

    Hi Andria,

    Just want to let you know that my favourite Christmas movie is the 1954 musical movie White Christmas, and after reading your blog, I couldn’t help to have the Irving Berlin song – “Count your blessings instead of sheep” playing over and over in my head. That song always makes me feel better.

    Great message.

    Francis

  3. Gail Mores says:

    I just returned from the funeral service for Jason Masters-Sooley. It was a lovely celebration of his life. He belonged to the Pentecostal Church which is an very relaxed event (compared to the Roman Catholic family funeral I attended last week) and extremely personal. Judy Masters did a lovely tribute to him, speaking about his birth and how he became disabled and the many challenges they overcame along the way often referring to miracles. Peggy Brown and another one of the staff from Jason’s House also paid tribute to him.

    Jason was a young man in his early 40’s who could not speak like most of us do, but let me tell you he had a strong voice and truly made a difference in our world. I am honoured to have known Jason and count that as one of my blessings.

    Gail

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