Do you remember the scene in Sleeping Beauty when the fairies come to bless the long-awaited baby princess? In Disney’s version, Mistress Flora, Mistress Fauna, and Mistress Merryweather float in, looking rather like colorful plump nuns, and begin to take turns bestowing blessings on the sweet child. First she is given the blessing of beauty, second the blessing of song…but alas, we never know what the third blessing is, because Mistress Merryweather is pre-empted by the arrival of a wicked fairy. Flashes of lightening…ominous music…doom and gloom…and then all hear the curse that the princess will one day prick her finger on a spindle and go to sleep for one hundred years.
At a young age, many of us figure out the difference between a blessing and a curse. Through Disney and storybooks, we learn that we should cheer for the good fairies and ‘boo’ for the wicked ones. We also, I suppose, learn that only certain people can grant blessings or bestow curses…fairies, witches, sorceresses, warlocks…priests, ministers…just the ones with special powers. And yet each week we light our chalice asking that we be inspired to bless and not to curse.
Blessing. Just saying the word feels good. A blessing also has nothing to do with specific words, and has everything to do with the energy we create and send out around us. It is an extension outward of attention and intention for the wellbeing of another. It is kindness offered and positive thoughts sent. To bless another is to show love and concern.
Blessings are relational; human to human, nature to human, person to animal, bird to flower…blessings involve an interaction infused with goodwill. In a beloved community, such as the one we strive to create at UFP, blessing rises between us… between our caring hearts and out of the trust we place in one another.
To bless the world, we have to feel that we have the ability to do so, but are often conflicted about this power. Who are we to offer a blessing? How could we be so presumptuous or even egotistical? But blessing isn’t about power at all. The Hebrew word for blessing, brakha, is rooted in the word for knee, suggesting that we receive blessing by kneeling down, by making ourselves small and receptive …receptive to all the gifts that surround us. And perhaps this is also the best position from which to give blessings…from a place of gratitude and humility, not a place of power or privilege.
And to bless is also a choice…to bless the world is an intentional choice. After each disappointment or failure, maybe we should say, “I choose to bless the world.” After each broken heart, we might say, “I choose to bless.” After each hurt, to bless. We have to choose it again, and again, and again.
May we be a community that chooses to bless.
“I’m not at all creative…I don’t paint, I don’t write songs, I’m not a poet…” Have you ever heard anyone say something like this? Have you said it?
Creativity is usually associated with the arts, and perhaps because the arts are so harshly curated and judged, most of us have a difficult time claiming our creativity. In school, we lined our art projects on the wall alongside those of our classmates, and then waited to see whose would be deemed the best. We have been taught that some of what we create is art, and some is not.
But thankfully, creativity is not limited to artistic expression. Each of us needs creativity just to get through our days…problem solving, dreaming, making choices, trying new things, seeking connections, fixing the broken.
Peggy Taylor said: “Creativity is our ability to dream things up and make them happen.” Conjuring up new ideas and possibilities is what creativity is all about. Using “what is” as the starting place, we imagine the “not yet.” But sometimes, we stop there, find the fun in the dreaming and neglect the part about making those imaginings real.
Making it real can be hard, and it can be scary too. Trying new things requires courage and the willingness to fail. Being our most creative and unique selves might cause others to cheer, but it can also lead to being laughed at or excluded. Yes, there is joy, beauty and play in creativity, but there is also insecurity, loneliness and self-doubt.
Maybe we should also talk about “co-creativity” this month. Where did we get the idea that artists and inventors are isolated, independent geniuses? In fact, new ideas come from the clash of difference. New art emerges only after inspiration from those who’ve gone before. Better forms of community are built by those who stick with the chaos and the struggle.
Simply put, creators need companions. It’s all a way of reminding us that the creative self-expression needs a venue. Those sacred sources of inspiration inside us – our imagination, unique voice and inner muses – want to come out and play, and they need playmates! Creativity asks us to stay connected to each other.
So as we wonder about creativity this month, ask “What do I want to create?” but also ask “Who are my partners?”
The universe is predicated on the open possibilities of newness. With gratitude for all of our sources of creativity – within us and all around us – let us begin.
With you with all my heart,
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