Enchanted by the Celtic and Jewish and Ignatian understanding that we are called to anoint the holy hours of our every day with blessing — 100 blessings precisely, in the case of the Jews — I decided to unspool my own centenary of thanks across the arc of a day. It seemed an apt spiritual exercise in this holy season of kindling light against the darkness.
In the flickering veil between sleep and awake, thank you, Blessed Animator of All, for still-pulsing heart and inflow of breath. Thank you for the inkling that stirs me from slumber.
Thank you, too, for darkness before the dawn, morning after morning a reawakening to the metaphor, the truth, that in our darkest hour we might hold on just one more minute, for surely the stars will dim, and horizon’s edge will be doused in tourmaline and tangerine, and finally radiant gold. (Keeping count of blessings: 4)
Thank you, by the way, for celestial paint set. Thank you for this sleeping room where, night after night, I lay myself down and unloose my dreams. Thank you for the blanket that chases away winter’s chill. And thank you for the one who sleeps beside me, the lump that’s there, that’s warm, when I reach across sheets in the night, in the morning. Thank you for deepening love and the long winding road that brought him to me, to my heart. Thank you for every day’s dawn, that sacred cloak of in-between, when crescent moon dangles just above, but night gives way to morning’s light, and heaven’s dome, at the seam of earth and sky, soaks up scant threads of all-absorbent amber rose.
Thank you for stillness at this holy hour. (12) Thank you for this wheezy old house, the one whose every creak and gurgle and sump-pump burp I know by heart. Thank you for kitchen, and heat that is cranked. Thank you for first gulp of coffee. And the night-prowling cat who comes back every morning. (17) Thank you for shower, hot and pulsing and shaking off sleepy-eyed resistance to standing upright. Thank you, Divine Creator, for this lumpy body, the one that propels me wherever I need to wander or wonder. Thank you for alchemy at the cookstove — and, while we’re at it, thank you for old reliable cookstove. Thank you for the morning’s fuel: oats and raisins and jar after jar of jewel-toned dried fruits. Heck, thank you for toast. And the raspberry jam I slather in drifts. Thank you for sustenance dolloped in spoonfuls, and the vespers I stir into the pot perched over the flame. Thank you for steaming bowls, and nimble throats able to wolf down breakfast.
Thank you for juice from the orchard, to wash it all down, and sugar from cane that sweetens the rush. (30) Thank you for scurrying feet that get to the bus stop before it’s too late. Thank you for the click of the door when at last the morning dash is over, is ended, and no one is reaching for car keys, muttering under her breath. Thank you, Holy One, for work of all kinds — for laundry to wash, and dishes to rinse, the sorts of labor that allow me to sink into free-floating rhythms of prayer. Thank you, especially, for typewriter keys that call me, and fingers that play on the alphabet rows. Thank you for sentences that write themselves, and words that are birthed from deep down inside. Thank you for wisdom it all its forms, the wisdom that comes while reading across the pages of news, or in a poem slipped under your transom, or from a stranger passing by. Plenty often, it comes through the holy gospel of a wonder child, as you catch one last phrase tossed over a shoulder at the schoolhouse door. Thank you, too, for plainspoken prose. And the fine line between poetry and prayer.
Thank you for words that unlock hearts, and snuff out hurt. (43) Thank you for bumping into great good souls in the meanderings of the day — be it by phone, or by email, or smack dab in the cereal aisle. Thank you for hearts that connect — a friend’s or a stranger’s. And, in the case of true friends, thank you for the blessed hours absorbed in coming to this holy bond of deeply knowing each other, inside and through. Thank you even for the bits of news — of whatever ilk, good or bad or nasty — that percolate the hours of each day, make one slice of time so vastly different from the next, stitch drama to the script of life, offer us the chance to absorb each and every frame from an angle never before perceived. (47) Thank you, most of all, for the deep down knowing that you, Holy Depth and Gentleness, never leave me adrift. Never let my quakings take me down. Ever bring me light, and tender touches. Ever hold me up, against the chilling winds. And bring me to communion with all that’s glorious and bountiful in this rugged, rugged landscape. (48)
Thank you for December’s winds and tumbling snowflakes. Thank you for the blanket of unbroken calm the first snowfall brings. Thank you for the wonder of keeping watch out the window. Oh, and thank you for the panes of glass, against which I so often press my nose. Thank you for all that flickers and darts through the skies just beyond. Thank you for take-offs and landings of winter’s winged thespians, the ones who tickle my heart hour by hour. Thank you for fir trees. And branches that groan under snow in meringues. And for De-cember’s plump scarlet orbs: the winterberry, the holly berry and, strung on a thread, rung round the tree, the pilgrims’ first choice, the cranberry. (61) Thank you for armchairs tucked by the hearth. Thank you for the pages we turn to the crackling of pine logs.
Thank you for interludes of an afternoon when we can soak up a strong dose of quietude. Thank you, Lighter of Night, for the cloak of darkness that comes early now, velvety back-drop for twinkling of stars, and moon that holds me, most every eve, in its trance. Thank you for dusk, dear Lighter of Light, the far edge of the day, beginning of nightfall, when the last seeds of illumination are scattered, are rosy. Thank you for the kitchen table, set with knife and fork and pure anticipation. Thank you for the blessing of the all-afternoon oven: the braising and simmering, the roasting and baking. Thank you for cinnamon clouds, and red-wine vapors, the ones that waft straight up your nose. Thank you, yes, for tummies that growl, and the deep bowls, thank you, that fill them. (72) Thank you for beeswax and flickering flame. Thank you for the lights You, Great Illumina-tor, have stitched into the nightsky. Thank you for Orion, the hunter in winter, and Polaris, who for eons has lit the way.
Thank you for the longest night, minute by minute nearly upon us. Thank you for drifting off to sleep, and dreams that color our imagination. Thank you even for revelations that come to us in the awful interludes of tossing and turning. Thank you for wanting to wake up again, to climb from the bed. Thank you for the crisp clean sheets we tuck under the chin of our sleeping child. (83) Thank you, dear God, for the little ones, the ones we kiss and set sailing to dreamland. Thank you for the gift of the bedtime story, and nighttime’s prayer.Thank you for the chance to be the chaser-away of scary monsters, and the one who unfurls the tales of wonder. Thank you for uncorked worries at the end of the day, and the blessing of being the one to whom the worry is told. Thank you for the breath-taking gift of finding just the right words to quell the worry, dry the tears. Thank you, most of all, for love.
Thank you for all the hours that make up a lifetime. Thank you even for heartache, and the lessons we learn therein. Thank you for the ones who scaffold our hearts, and reach out a hand in the dark. Thank you for those who steady our wobbly knees. (98) Thank you, Holiness On High, for each and every stitch of blessing, of life. Thank you for all that’s criss-crossed my path this blessed day. (100) Thank you for this. All of this. And so much more.