Let me preface by advising that all quotations in this post are in italics, unless otherwise stated, and taken from an article in the Liguorian, a Catholic magazine we subscribe to, entitled “Discovering the Blessings of Kindness”, written by Patricia H. Livingston. I feel that I must say that if I attempted to write on this subject after reading this article, I would have used much the same wording as she, so I thought it better to just quote her. My own thoughts will be in plain old regular text. I apologize ahead of time if this becomes confused, but I will do my best to keep my words separate from her words.
“The Jewish concept of blessing, the b’rahah, is a prayer of praise and thanksgiving, blessing God for giving us any of countless gifts or moments in our lives.”~ “Discovering the Blessings of Kindness”
I felt moved to take numerous quotes from this article because they express what I wish that I could. My opinions and feelings are reflected through them. Sure we can be charitable by donating a gift to the poor, whether it be money or clothing or food. Most of us will do so in anonymity, and there is a good in that because it does not draw attention to our acts of kindness, our egos are not encouraged to get a big head. The reason a lot of us move in this way, however, is specifically so that they do not have to come into contact with a person in need, for whatever reason. It seems to be a giving, when, where and how, of convenience and not necessarily where the true need is. I will not attempt to analyze this now because it will draw me away from what I intend to write about, which is the blessing that comes when we DO interact with people.
In my own opinion, I’ve always felt that the act was incomplete unless I could see the person on the receiving end; to see their face light up, receive acknowledgement. In addition, I’ve always felt that this was very self-centered of me to think and very ego-based. I always felt that I needed to actively work against satisfying myself of this need. Then I read this article and gained new insight. A bit of background on this is that this speaker is the sister of the author and was diagnosed with serious illness.
“I get a break from my preoccupation with the endless road of suffering ahead when I am doing something loving for someone else, someone who needs my help. It has to be in person. And they have to want it; they need to respond somehow so that I can see it matters to them…… Unappreciated efforts to little for my angst! Something has to pass between us, be given and received. Their receiving is as important as the gift…. I guess what I am saying is that what helps me is knowing that I can still be a blessing to someone else.”
I found this profound and identified with it right way. I suddenly felt that maybe it was not selfish of me to desire to see the results of my actions. Just maybe it was not my own ego desiring praise that was motivating my actions. I have since trained myself to think to what my thoughts were, what my motivation was before I did some good deed. I dwell on that because at some point, I will look back with pride and I feel that this pride is damning thing and contaminates whatever good was done. Now, I feel that the greater thing is the blessing created from the personal interaction with another. Read on:
“The capacity to bless life is in everybody. The power of our blessing is not diminished by illness or age. On the contrary, our blessings become even more powerful as we grow older. They have survived the buffeting of our experience….A blessing is not something that one person gives another. A blessing is a moment of meeting, a certain kind of relationship in which both people involved remember and acknowledge their true nature and worth, and strengthen what is whole in one another….. I think this mutuality of blessing, of helping one another to live, is enormously important…. The receiving is as important as the giving. We strengthen one another in the exchange.”
This seems right. A blessing is not to be just one sided; both parties, the giver and the receiver, contribute to it’s manifestation. I have had experiences that confirm this dynamic of blessing since I first began to understand it. I have a friend from church who is poor and she wanted to learn how to knit and crochet. She is slow to pick up the techniques, but she is optimistic and persistent. To be truthful, when I first learned how to knit, I gave up on it because of my impatience with myself; but she is wonderful. I told her that I have plenty of extra yarn, needles and hooks she could use, or even keep if she wants; but I thought it would be better that she used my tools until she knew which sizes she best liked to work with before she went out and bought them.
Anyway, she learned how to make chains first with the crochet hook; but she stuck with that and doesn’t seem interested in learning the actual crochet stitches to make things. She is content to make seriously long chains. That first day, I sent her home to practice. The next time she came over, she had long chain necklaces for my son to play with. I didn’t tell her that it might be dangerous for him to play with them; and accepted them with awe because I never expected her zeal for giving back in her own way. The next time, she brought beautiful little mats that I could put on my couch. They were made with chains and sewn together in a spiral. I consider her to be very creative because on her own she combined multiple strands of yarn and had the idea to sew them together for mats, or if bigger, rugs. It gave me much joy to witness this happening between us… and to RECEIVE gifts of two mats from her learning hands.
“It might seem like such a little thing, but I believe that it was a blessing being exchanged. Her receiving is as significant to me as the giving was to her“; and visa versa. I realized, as the author of this article did, what a very important point this is.
“We can be ashamed of our need to receive. Yet the receiving is just as important. The blessing happens. We need the kindness.” I can relate to this, too, because I was the one ashamed of being financially needy after my divorce.
“This is sacred truth: We bless one another when we meet in kindness. In those moments we are one with the primal energy of God’s outpouring of life and love…. This realization has helped me understand our part in God’s blessing… God is constantly offering abundant blessing, but our receiving, our appreciation, and our gratitude in response are a necessary part of what makes the blessing fully happen.
“Each time we notice, each time we pause and say thank you, each time we savor a gift and remember it, we deepen the sacred moment, we increase the kindness in the world… When we meet in blessing ‘the light of the world is strengthened, around us and in us’.”
And I am never broken
We are never broken
We are God’s eyes
~ “Hands”, Jewel ~ Only Kindness Matters