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Bless His Heart

I had a friend, since passed away, who would nearly always follow his criticism or complaint of someone with, “Bless his heart.” It might seem disingenuous but I always liked it. I thought he was basically saying, “I don’t like what he does, but he’s a good, imperfect person.” Aren’t we all?

And those words, “Bless her heart,” are lovely, when you really think about them. So much better than “Bless you” after a sneeze. Bless your heart. Bless the most vulnerable part of you. And that, to me, is even better. He would also say it directly to me, as a form of empathy. I’d have a cold or maybe I’d be dealing with something difficult, and he would say, “Ohh, bless your heart.” It’s somehow more than empathy. He wasn’t just feeling my pain, but offering something more.

Words do have power. Those kinds of words were not a part of my childhood, though, and aren’t now, either, though I’d like to try and say them. We said, “Bless you!” if someone sneezed, but we did not ever speak in terms of blessings, prayer, or God at home. We were Catholics! We said formal prayers in church, things we memorized in Catholic school. That kind of talk did not enter into our daily life. I get a little itchy when people do speak of God or Jesus as if they’re talking about an uncle or someone who lives down the block. And I feel like they can see all the way through my silence.

Another friend, also now gone, used to ask me to pray for him in his fight with pancreatic cancer. Finally I came clean and said, “You know, I’m not much of one for prayer, but I am holding you in my thoughts.” He just smiled and said, “He knows what you’re thinking.” No judgment, just easy, gentle acceptance.

I do love the idea of a blessing as a piece of grace, a delight bestowed, a kindness, some solace offered by me or by the universe to someone who needs it. I love the word, though I am not religious. I love it for all these other meanings. I love it as a loveliness we can bestow on each other, rather than the Catholic way of receiving it from someone who is supposedly better or higher (more male) than me.

So I am blessing your heart, from this distance. I am blessing not just your heart but all the parts of you! I bless you all over! I hope you can feel that.

“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.”― Elizabeth Gilbert

“Money can’t buy no blessin’s.” ― Ron Hall, Same Kind of Different as Me

“In the end, life is about collecting experiences and looking for the lesson and blessing in each one. Yet we are never to carry these experiences on our backs, only in our hearts. One will hold us back, while the other will keep us moving forward.” ― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. And if you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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