We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.
-George Bernard Shaw
From "Healing Words for the Body, Mind and Spirit," by Caren Golman:
Last winter, I visited Verne Edwards for the first time in more than twenty-five years. Although occasional letters, cards, phone calls and email helped me to stay in touch with my college mentor, whenever we planned to meet, random acts of life and weather cancelled them. And so time passed, and for a quarter of a century the slightly-built man who sported a touch of curmudgeon and I lived in our own worlds only two hours apart.
But the winter of 2000 was different. For me it was a cold, icy time when the pain and discontent I felt over my brush with a life-threatening illness kept cutting into me like the blade of my surgeon's knife. And yet it was also a winter where I felt ablaze with love, support, and gifts of self-healing that I had never experienced before. In gratitude for the life I saw ahead of me, I wanted to look back at my past and knew I needed to see Verne.
When we met again, I instantly recognized my dapper, snowy-haired journalism professor. Turning toward me, he did a double take. Over lunch, as our conversation drifted to the past, I began thanking him for his blessings-for telling me that I had what it took to become a successful writer; for being a tough but fair task-master; for believing in me when I didn't; for bailing a renegade out of all kinds of deep, smelly, stuff; for listening; for taking the risk to stand up to those whose self-serving interests might have harmed me; and for being so trustworthy and trusting. In turn, his eyes, expressions and words thanked me.
When, I wonder, does a blessing become a blessing? Is it when it's thought of? When it's spoken? When it's heard, or when it's acknowledged-not just in the head but in the heart? In his poem "Vacilliation," William Butler Yeats wrote that, sometime after his fiftieth birthday, he was sitting alone in a coffee shop and knew "of a sudden" that he was "blessed and could bless." When Verne and I embraced and then parted on that winter day in Delaware, Ohio, I knew that I was blessed and had blessed.
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