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Counting Blessings - What is a blessing?

Seems like an obvious question – what is a blessing? – Yet if I think about a life lived in sufficiency I begin to wonder about the qualities of a blessing.

Children, spouses, neighbors, a surprise windfall, a promotion all can be seen as blessings. What about running farther than I have in five years or a spontaneous lunch with my sister and 5-year old nephew in Manhattan last weekend. Are those blessings?

Is it a blessing that when the snow fell in October my power stayed on while the rest of the state was plunged into prolonged outages?

What about my addicted loved one, the cancer diagnosis, the layoff or divorce? Or the fact that I may have lost my power for 7, 8 or nine days for the second time in two months; could these be seen as blessings? Many of us would say no, there is no blessing in a cancer diagnosis.

But is it true that blessings are only positive? Or could blessings be all the things, events, people that wash over us as we travel through life, the ones we embrace and the ones we have an aversion too?

On www.dictionary.com the definition of blessing is: a special favor, mercy or benefit.

Can we be the judge of our blessings? Can we truly discern what a special favor or benefit is while we are experincing life in the moment? It seems important to ask this question since our mindset and the contexts in which we live determine our perceptions and the outcomes of our lives.

Or, are blessings only countable when looking over our life from the long view, when looking over the lessons learned from the good and the bad news or the the skillful moves and the colossal mistakes? What about the relationships that thrive or the ones with great loss? As I open myself up to creating my life and my listening from what is enough, is it time for me to say that all my experiences are blessings? That being alive is in and of itself enough of a blessing so that all that occurs in that life is such?

Maybe in these final months of the year as I sit with family and friends I can count all of my blessings regardless of their wrapping.

  • What blessings have I received this year?
  • When looking back over the past few months did blessings come wrapped in experiences I would not have said were positive?
  • Can all of these "blessings" open up a space for me to treasure all of my life?
  • What blessings can I bring to others in these final holiday months?
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