There is a special form of prayer that we offer to mark transitions such as beginnings and endings, and that prayer is known across many traditions as a blessing.
The Irish poet and philosopher, John O’Donohue shares the rich heritage of blessing found within the Celtic tradition. In his book, To Bless the Space Between Us (affiliate link), he writes:
“…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.”
This desire to bless the life around us arises from deep in the heart. It is a desire to encircle ourselves, others and the natural world with the goodness that we sense lies at the core of life. We have an innate sense of wanting to preserve this goodness and to call it forward and to let it guide us.
The theologian, Walter Breuggeman says, “Blessing is the force of well-being made active in the world.” This desire we have to invoke a blessing upon life whether it is a newborn baby, a new home, or a new beginning comes from this place of wanting the best for one another.
In her book, My Grandfather’s Blessings (affiliate link), Rachel Naomi Remen, shares that in the Hebrew tradition a blessing is a means of acknowledging the spark of the Divine in the other and blowing on it, as if to support it and fan it with life.
I have an image in my mind of a blessing being like dropping a pebble into a pool of water and watching it ripple outward in larger and larger circles. I have this sense that offering words of blessing may seem like a small thing, but it has a larger impact than we can see. Perhaps this is why prayers of blessing arise in so many wisdom traditions. These words of blessing convey the outpouring of love, and love is a potent force in the world.
As we enter this New Year, I would invite you to offer a blessing for this new beginning. You may choose to use one of the blessings included below, or you may wish to offer a blessing of your own.
With whatever blessing you offer, may we journey forward together with an intention to step into this New Year with love, kindness and respect leading the way.