May flowers spring up where your feet
touch the earth.
May the feet that walked before you
bless your every step.
Those are the first two lines of the blessing that Macrina Wiederkehr sent her friend Joyce Rupp before Rupp set out to walk the ancient pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago.
As she recounts in her book Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino, Rupp taped the complete blessing inside the back page of her journal “so its strength and courage would be with me every step of the way to Santiago.” (p. 12)
When my friends Ann and Roberta and I came together to develop pilgrimage-oriented programming here in Port Townsend, Wiederkehr’s blessing inspired us to write our own set of blessings to carry us through the journey of creation.
At the start of each work session, to refocus our minds and hearts, and to rediscover the mission that joined us on this path, we made a practice of reading our blessings out loud together.
Pilgrimage Port Townsend Blessings
May we open our hearts to the Breath of God, which brings new life into the world.
May we speak openly and truthfully to each other, in faith and love.
May we listen for Wisdom’s guiding Spirit, in our own words and the words of each other, throughout our time together.
May the Water that surrounds us remind us of all we hold in common.
May we walk our own path with integrity and love.
May we find blessed passage through the difficult places.
May we experience new connections with the beauty of our bodies in this, our new body of work.
May we create a hospitable space that welcomes the weary traveler and all who seek the sacred.
May we be open to where these pilgrimages & pilgrims lead us. Amen.
— Ann Healy-Raymond, Roberta Hiday, and Margaret D. McGee. © 2011, 2012 Margaret D. McGee
Writing these blessings was a collaborative effort. First, each of us individually wrote 2-4 sentences to express her own personal blessings for our undertaking, using the “May…” structure from Wiederkehr’s blessings.
Then we put the pieces together, shaping and rearranging to make a beginning, middle, and end. It was amazing how our individual visions fit together into a whole. Today I can’t say for sure who wrote each and every line. I just remember saying all the lines together, until they were all ours.
Beginning our meetings this way turned out to be a powerful practice. We had set out together on our own shared pilgrimage, which evolved into a trek through hills and valleys, accomplishments and frustrations, blisters and band-aids, tears and laughter. Along the way we learned a lot about our selves and each other. At every turn, expectation met up with reality and was transformed, only to be transformed again around the next bend. Both product and partnership got redefined. Through it all, the hopes we expressed through our blessings stayed true.
For me, reading our blessings together at the start of each meeting was surprisingly relaxing. Saying out loud that it’s okay to speak the truth, for example, means that it also must be okay to hear the truth. Each time we said that line, I felt myself open up to possibilities, and to being forgiven as well as forgiving.
So I share our blessings with you, for your own inspiration. Maybe you are engaged in a shared mission, working with others to accomplish a larger goal. Here’s a simple method to keep the group’s focus on mission alive and fresh:
- With your shared mission in mind, ask each member of the team to write one or two lines of personal blessing for your work together. Suggest a way to start each blessing, such as “May …” or “A blessing on….”
- Put these blessings together. It’s okay to shape and re-arrange for flow, but avoid too much re-writing.
- At the start of each meeting, read your blessings out loud together. To keep it fresh, you can vary the method of reading. For example, you might read them in unison at one meeting, and at the next, read around the circle, with each person taking a line.
Walking with companions on a pilgrimage, you will certainly meet up with some surprises along the way. In my experience, it helps to bless the road ahead together.
Wish you a Happy New Year, inspired Epiphanies, and many blessings on your path,
Margaret, the blessing you three constructed is very beautiful and very, very pertinent. I love it. You capture the real essence – that by opening up to each other, each of you became more accepting, not just of the two others, but of herself. At the Conversation Cafe today we talked about “tolerance,” which is, at base, putting up with that which causes you discomfort or pain. Some of us realized that over the years, by practicing “tolerance” on purpose, we have reduced the number of things/people/situations that make us uncomfortable. We don’t have to tolerate any more because now we accept, even embrace. What a blessing!
Thanks, Brad. Yes, I agree — practice, practice, practice!