I was listening to holiday music on the radio the other day and Irving Berlin’s classic “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)” came on. As I was listening to it, my mind began to drift as I started to count my own blessings. Among them were the usual suspects of friends, family and fortunate events. Before I knew it, I had amassed quite a list of blessings and with it, a profound sense of peace, joy and gratitude. The more I counted, the more I began to notice what I wasn’t counting; the moments between blessings.
As I affirm the existence of my blessings, I am also indirectly affirming that there are times in my life where I am “not blessed”. I noticed that I rarely if ever considered pain, loss, betrayal or simple boredom as blessed moments. Am I leaving spiritual money on the table or is there no value to be found in times of suffering?
When I was a kid, my family went to Disneyland every Summer. We’d pack up the car and make the 400 mile drive from Sacramento to Anaheim. Now, in real time, this trip takes around 6 or 7 hours but in kid time, mashed in our car, arguing with my brother and being yelled at by my stressed out parents, the drive felt like 2 days. The fact we were on our way to the “Happiest Place on Earth” just made time it took to get seem even longer. Back then, for me, there was one blessing: Disneyland. The rest of the trip I would have no problem classifying as “not blessed”, but let’s take a closer look at the experience. At what point did the blessing start? As we walked through the gates of the Magic Kingdom? Perhaps it started 1 mile away as I caught the first excited glimpse of the Matterhorn ride? Actually, none of these things could be experienced if we never left the house so it can be argued that the entire journey is just as blessed as the destination because I can’t have one without the other. In this case, I knew I was heading someplace wonderful but, many times we don’t know what blessings we’re headed our way or what magical events are leading to those blessings. All we can really know is that we are either currently experiencing a blessing or we’re on our way to a blessing regardless of how things may seem.
Trace the tracks of your own blessings. Is it possible to embrace the twists and turns of each path as much as the blessing itself? Choosing to look at one’s life in this way can make counting blessings a rather daunting task. It means that we can choose to see our entire life as a series of infinite blessings. Remember that great feeling that arose from counting just a limited number of blessings? Now, we can unlock that peace, joy and gratitude and apply it to our entire past to help us come to a place of gratitude for the events that brought us to the present moment, we can look upon the future with giddy anticipation and wonder what new blessings are in store and we can make our choices in the present knowing that that no matter what we choose, nothing can interrupt our flow of good.