Blessings are all around us. Count yours every day — it’s good for your soul and your health.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word blessing?
Is it the grace said before meals? “We always say the blessing before we eat.”
Is it an affirmation or encouragement? “The employee had the blessing of her boss to move ahead on the idea she had.”
Or perhaps the word blessing brings to mind something wonderful that has happened to you, something that brings you joy. “The birth of my first grandchild was such a blessing.”
Have you ever noticed that there are those kinds of blessing all around us, every day, but we often don’t even see them?
As a hospital chaplain, I have had the opportunity to meet patients who have multiple health challenges and very difficult lives. What astounds and humbles me is how many of them I have heard say, “I am so blessed.”
I secretly wonder, “How do you even keep getting up in the morning?” Yet, they tell me the ways they are blessed. My problem is that I am often blind to the blessings all around me.
There is a well-known Christian hymn called “Count Your Blessings”:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
This hymn is a reminder to me that I need to pay attention. And when I pay attention I will see all that I truly have to be grateful for each and every day. As I write these words, the rain is falling outside, yet I am warm and dry and grateful for a roof over my head.
I also need to pay attention to the smaller things in life and be grateful for them: the hot coffee I drank this morning, the dog nuzzling me as I began to wake up, my daughter telling me about prom the night before.
Gratitude for the big things and the little things alike is a spiritual practice that can transform our lives. Research has shown that having a regular practice of listing things we are grateful for — counting our blessings — can have a real impact on us physically, emotionally and spiritually.
This is how the singer/songwriting Carrie Newcomer describes this practice in a poem called “The Three Gratitudes”:
Every night before I go to sleep
I say out loud
Three things that I’m grateful for,
All the significant, insignificant
Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life.
It’s a small practice and humble,
And yet, I find I sleep better
Holding what lightens and softens my life
Ever so briefly at the end of the day.
Until I lie grinning,
Blankets pulled up to my chin,
Awash with wonder
At the sweetness of it all.
But let’s not wait until we go to bed tonight. Right now, take a piece of paper and write down three things you are grateful for, three blessings in your life that give you joy. I bet you are smiling now. Isn’t life a wonder?
– The Rev. Kelley M. Woggon, M.Div., BCC
Chaplain and Director of Pastoral Care
Professional chaplains, as well as chapels, are available to assist patients, their families and guests seeking spiritual, ethical and religious support at all Norton Healthcare hospitals. Chaplains also can provide prayer and guided meditation to help patients and guests cope with stress or anxiety.