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99 Blessings

An Invitation to Life

ISBN13: 9780385347945

ISBN10: 0385347944

Publisher: Image (12 Feb. 2013)

Extent: 128 pages

Binding: Hardcover

Size: 13.3 x 1.7 x 19.9 cm

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  • Source of all blessings, you bless us with dreams-dreams while we sleep and dreams in our most wakeful moments. May I be responsive to both forms of dreams and pass these blessings on by living a life that is faithful to their guidance.


    From beloved author Brother David Steindl-Rast comes this beautiful collection of original blessings meant to guide readers through each day with wisdom and spirit.

  • Brother David Steindl-Rast

    Brother David Steindl-Rast (b. 1926) is one of the most well-known spiritual teachers in the world. Born in Austria, he came to the United States after receiving his PhD in Psychology from the University of Vienna. As a member of the Benedictine Order of Catholic monks, he is known for pioneering work in interfaith dialogue (especially between Christianity and Buddhism), his promotion of the spiritual practice of gratefulness, and for his efforts to revitalize contemplative prayer life in the Catholic Church. He lectures frequently, both in the United States and abroad.

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    Beautiful. These elegant and concise prayers focus our attention on all the blessings, big and small, that we tend to overlook in our rushed lives. Slow down and taste gratitude, and see how blessed you are.
    - James Martin, SJ, author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything

  • Preface

    An Invitation to Bless

     Listening closely, we can hear how similar they sound, the wordsblessing and blood. Blessing, rightly understood, is the invis­ible bloodstream pulsating through the universe-alive and life-giving. "Just to live is holy," says the great Jewish sage Abraham Joshua Heschel. "Just to be is a blessing." 

    "Bless what there is, for being." Whatever it be, bless it be­cause it exists; you need no other reason. With those words the poet W. H. Auden summarizes "the singular command" with which the universe confronts us humans. Each page of this book invites you in a different way to rise to this challenge and "bless what there is for being." 

    For three months or so, I wrote these blessings down-one each day-blessing whatever happened to come to my mind, from insects to the Internet, from friendship to fresh linen. I resisted the temptation to "improve" them later; they stand here as they flowed from my pen. You might open the book at random and let yourself be surprised, or you might read these blessings-maybe one a day-in the order in which they were written. You might want to check the index of keywords and pick the blessing you need at the moment. I wish for you that you become aware of how greatly you yourself are blessed and eager to pass your blessings on. Passing them on is what counts. Blessings are life-giving only as long as we pass them on. The waters of the river Jordan can teach us much about blessing: Fresh and refreshing, they leap down from the Lebanon Mountains, fill the Sea of Galilee to the brim, and make its shores an image of Paradise. Gardens, vineyards, and orchards are heavy with fruit and produce, and the lake itself teems with fish. Then these wa­ters flow on, the Jordan continues, ending in the Dead Sea. What a difference here: The shores are barren desert, and no fish can survive in the briny water. But isn't it the same water? Yes, is the answer, indeed, it is the same water of blessing. But where bless­ing flows in and passes on, everything comes alive; where it flows only in and stops, it stagnates. 

    This accounts for the pattern of each blessing in this little book, first expressing delight in a blessing received, following with a resolution to pass it on. And this pattern is repeated over and over. 

    Repetition is the way time mirrors the eternal Now. Rep­etition with slight differences never fails to thrill our sense of beauty-a theme with variations in music, even a row of weath­ered fence posts along a paddock. Maybe our memory of the first sound that ever struck our budding ears in infancy, our mother's heartbeat when we were still daydreaming in her womb, gave us this love for repetition. And maybe the first stirring, then, of what would later mature into awe accounts for the important role that repetition plays in incantations and blessings. Allow yourself to feel its magic power. Ninety-nine times you will find it repeated here; the hundredth time I give you only the pattern for you to fill in some blessing that you welcome and want to pass on. Once you discover the joy this pattern can trigger, you will want to repeat it not just a hundred but innumerable times. 

    May this patchwork quilt of blessings help to sharpen your taste for the gift of life in its innumerable facets. May you grow ever more blessed, ever more able to bless. 

    S O U R C E O F A L L B L E S S I N G S ,
    you bless us with w i n d .
    Gentle or fierce, warm and humid
    or icy or hot and dry, may it
    caress my skin and make it tingle,
    refresh my spirit and make it wide
    awake so that I might to pass
    on lightheartedness to everyone
    I meet.

    S O U R C E O F A L L B L E S S I N G S ,
    you bless us with b r e a t h .
    In and out, in and out, ever
    renewing us, ever anew making us
    one with all who breathe the same
    air, may this blessing overf low
    into a shared gratefulness, so that
    with one breath I may praise and
    celebrate life.

    S O U R C E O F A L L B L E S S I N G S ,
    you bless us every moment with
    countless h i d d e n t h i n g s on
    which our well- being depends,
    though we will never know them—
    from the water veins hidden deep
    in the earth to the bacteria that
    help us digest our food. May I pass
    on blessings unnoticed for the
    well- being of all.

    S O U R C E O F A L L B L E S S I N G S ,
    you bless us with f l e e t i n g
    e n c o u n t e r s—m oments when
    our path crosses just once with that
    of another, whether the man who
    holds a door open with a smile,
    the receptionist who offers us a
    kind word, or the child skipping
    past us in the park. May these
    blessings find me awake, alert, and
    ready to pass on their gratuitous
    sparkle by a sparkle in my own eye.

    S O U R C E O F A L L B L E S S I N G S ,
    you bless us with d r e ams—
    dreams while we sleep and dreams
    in our most wakeful moments.
    May I be responsive to both forms
    of dreams and pass these blessings
    on by living a life that is faithful to
    their guidance.

    Excerpted from 99 Blessings by David Steindl-rast. Copyright © 2013 by Brother David Steindl-Rast. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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99 Blessings