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An Invitation to Life

Written by David Steindl-rastAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by David Steindl-rast

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List Price: $9.99

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On Sale: February 12, 2013
Pages: 128 | ISBN: 978-0-385-34750-1
Published by : Image Religion/Business/Forum
99 Blessings Cover

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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE PRAISE
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

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.

 

This gift book of ninety-nine personal and original blessings from Brother David Steindl-Rast, known for his pioneering work in interfaith dialogue, marks the first time the member of the Benedictine Order of Catholic monks has crafted a series of prayers for the general reader-from Catholics to Protestants, Jews and Muslims, agnostics and uncertain. Blessings are life-giving only as long as we pass them on, so this book is meant to be shared with friends, family, coworkers, strangers, and anyone in need of a few words of inspiration and guidance.

Excerpt

Preface

An Invitation to Bless

 Listening closely, we can hear how similar they sound, the words blessing 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.

1
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.

2
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.

3
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.

4
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.

5
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.
David Steindl-rast|Author Q&A

About David Steindl-rast

David Steindl-rast - 99 Blessings

Photo © © Ulrike Seifert

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.

Author Q&A

1.  What is a blessing?

The words "blessing" and "blood" spring from the same root in the English language. This allows us to think of blessing as a life-giving blood-stream, a current of spiritual energy circulating through the universe. The more we share in it, the more we come alive on all levels. The sharing has two phases: we open our heart to receive the blessing that flows to us and we pass it on by blessing others. Blessing can take many forms. We can bless others by loving action or by wishing them well. We can bless God - as the Source "from whom all blessings flow" - by thanksgiving. Blessings like the ones collected in this book are stylized sets of words meant to open the heart to the cosmic give-and-take of life.

 

2.  You include a blessing for the internet. How should social media impact our spiritual lives?

Spirituality is - by definition - aliveness on all levels. One of those levels is our social embedding. A measure of spiritual maturity is alertness to social opportunities and responsibilities. Thus, use of the social media is an important area of spirituality.

 

3.  Why are these series of prayers for all walks of life - from the religious to non-religious?

There is a basic religiosity shared by all human beings. Blessing belongs to this fundamental stratum of Religion underlying the different religions. This is the reason why blessings like the ones in this book can resonate with people belonging to any religion or even to none of them.

 

4.  This marks the first time a member of the Benedictine Order of Catholic monks has done a book like this. Why did you think it was important?

In our time much depends on finding common ground. For people at home in one religion the task is to find the common ground of all religions. Blessings are an easy way to reach that ground we share and to celebrate it.

 

5.  Are there things unworthy of a blessing?

Confronted with destructive things and events like atomic reactors, arsenals, gas chambers, and torture, we have the choice to curse or to bless. If cursing is the opposite of blessing, it means throttling the flow of life-giving energy. It is difficult to see how this could improve a situation. In contrast, blessing will attempt to channel positive energy where it is most needed in the hope that some of it may seep in.

 

6.  You are known for pioneering work in interfaith dialogue. Has there been progress made or are the rifts growing?

On the level of institutional religions public pressure has brought about a certain amount of tolerance. Here, we ought not to expect much, since every institution depends for its survival on competition with its equals. But much progress has been made during my lifetime on the level of spirituality, of basic human religiosity. Here, more and more people are discovering a shared dimension of their ultimate concerns and are learning from each other.

Praise

Praise

"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

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