Birthday Blessing

Nineteen years ago today, I held my daughter in my arms for the first time. I remember everything about Elena’s birth as though it were yesterday, and here she is beginning the last of her teenaged years. It is impossible to adequately convey the blessing she is in my life and the love I have for her.

I thought the best I could do today is to share the late poet John O’Donohue’s birthday blessing (For your Birthday, from To Bless the Space Between Us). Today I pray it for Elena, but I also pray it for all of our children.

Blessed be the mind that dreamed the day
the blueprint of your life
would begin to glow on earth,
illuminating all the faces and voices
that would arrive to invite
your soul to growth.

Praised be your father and mother,
who loved you before you were,
and trusted to call you here
with no idea who you would be.

Blessed be those who have loved you
into becoming who you were meant to be,
blessed be those who have crossed your life
with dark gifts of hurt and loss
that have helped to school your mind
in the art of disappointment.

When desolation surrounded you,
blessed be those who looked for you
and found you, their kind hands
urgent to open a blue window
in the gray wall formed around you.

Blessed be the gifts you never notice,
your health, eyes to behold the world,
thoughts to countenance the unknown,
memory to harvest vanished days,
your heart to feel the world’s waves,
your breath to breathe the nourishment
of distance made intimate by earth.

On this echoing-day of your birth,
may you open the gift of solitude
in order to receive your soul;
enter the generosity of silence
to hear your hidden heart;
know the serenity of stillness
to be enfolded anew
by the miracle of your being.

Happy Birthday, Elena.