This morning, at the end of my 7 mile run, I slipped on the ice on our driveway and regained my balance just in time to prevent a bad fall. I know all too well how life can shatter in an instant. Here was yet another reminder…
In the face of evidence of the fragility and impermanence of life, some of us choose numbness or denial. It is scary to remain open, to cherish what we have, even as we remember that our existence is temporary.
When I think about blessings, I am not really referencing a higher power. I am referring to good fortune, luck, the objects of gratitude. The giving of a blessing, for me, has to do with bestowing a wish for safety, for positive outcome, or at least, compassion.
I am always a little nervous about travel. And I’ve noticed over the years that often when I am anticipating a trip, I’ll see a hawk take off from an overhead perch and soar over my head. When that happens, I am soothed. I have the perception that the hawk has blessed my journey, and I feel safer. I think of this as a “hawk blessing,” and I share it with my loved ones, too.
When the kids were small, we would often take walks together, and they would be sad if they saw a squirrel or a bunny that had been killed by a vehicle. We talked about it once and I suggested that perhaps it would be helpful if we said a little blessing when we saw a dead animal. Both kids liked the idea…but what should we say? Brian had the solution: “goddamn cars!” To this day, whenever we see road kill, someone will say the “blessing,” “goddamn cars!”
As a family with small children, we developed nighttime rituals to help the kids transition from the day’s activities into sleep. We did pajamas, toothbrushing, stories and then Bob and I would take turns going into each child’s room to give them a nighttime blessing. We always placed a hand on their forehead. Bob gave the same one to each child, I developed different ones for each.
I still love the blessing Bob used to give them:
Feel my hand on your forehead.
Feel your forehead become warmer as all the warm sweet thoughts come into your brain and push out all the mean scary thoughts.
So you’ll have nothing but warm sweet dreams all night long knowing mommy and daddy are in the next room that we love you and will keep you safe.
The one I gave Megan came from something I heard when I took a workshop at Kripalu:
I wish you happiness
I wish you peace
I wish you ease of well being
I wish you freedom
The one I used to say to Brian was a little psychotic, but he liked it:
I am your Mommy
There was no Mommy before me and there will be no Mommy after me
I am your Mommy now and forever
Megan is 24 now and Brian is 21; we don’t give the nighttime blessings often these days. Most of my blessings for them come in the form of food. When they are home, I feed them their favorite things and they feel nourished and blessed. And so do I!
Brian is eating low carb (remember the zucchini post), and it can be difficult for him to find healthy choices near his apartment a few blocks from the White House. Last semester, I drove down to DC to bring him a cooler full of carbtastic creations from my kitchen here in Warwick.
Meg was home overnight earlier this week and we spent some quality time together. When she left to go back into the city to give a grad school class presentation, she realized she probably wouldn’t have time to eat supper until very late at night. I did some quick thinking about what I could pack for her that would be portable, easy to eat, and give her good energy to talk about dolphins to her colleagues.
I’ve made many variations of coconut/dried fruit/nut bars and bits. So I looked in the pantry for supplies and quickly threw together a packable snack for her to pick on for the rest of the day. She called when she got back to Brooklyn that evening to report that her presentation had gone perfectly and that the “blessing bites” were “awesome, Mom!”
These are vegan and gluten free, making them perfect for just about anyone who doesn’t have a nut allergy.
Makes about 20 one inch balls. If you like, you may substitute 1 tbs cocoa powder for half of the peanut butter powder to make chocolate bites. You might also experiment with different nuts. Pecans are good, as are cashews. And you can use more nuts and skip the coconut if your husband (like mine) hates coconut.
½ cup almonds, toasted
¼ cup coconut, toasted
2 tbs. sesame seeds, toasted
¼ cup chopped dates
3 tbs. hot water
2-3 tbs powdered peanut butter
sea salt to taste
Optional garnishes: sesame seeds, sea salt, cocoa nibs or cocoa powder, finely ground coconut, finely ground almonds.
Soak the dates in the hot water for ½ hour or so. Alternatively, put the water and dates in a cup in the microwave for a minute. Put all ingredients in a mini food processor (use 2 tbs peanut powder to start). Process until the mixture starts to form a ball. Feel it; it should be slightly sticky but not gloppy. Test by trying to roll into a ball. If it is too loose to roll, add the extra pb powder and process for a few seconds. If it’s too stiff, add a bit of water. Roll into one inch balls and place on parchment, then roll in the optional garnishes.
If you want to pack these, it’s a great help to refrigerate them for a few hours or overnight first, they’ll be firmer. But if you don’t have time, it’s really not essential.
Serve to busy, hungry graduate students or other people you love and wish to bless.