Yesterday was an extraordinary day. For me it marked the second year of grieving of the loss of the beloved (see tab at the top of the page). And then the phone rang at seven in the morning and at first I tried to ignore it; but the caller persisted and rang again. On the line was one of our night-shift nurses at hospice, asking if I could come in early for a blessing ceremony for a patient near death.
Even now, as I think back (and even when I’m not), my body continues to tingle: a sort of energetic vibration just below the skin, accompanied by an immense sense of well-being, of wholeness. I’ll let this phenomenon run its course and hesitate to say much more right now. Suffice it to say, the ceremony was deeply moving for all 28 people present as we rolled the patient’s bed into the elevator and up to the roof-top garden. There, under a sky heavy with rain clouds, the sun broke through as I led the assembled friends and families though moments of silence, speaking from the heart, tears, ringing of a bell, and more silence.
Never having done this, yet without fear or hesitation, I invited her husband-to-be to dip his fingertips in a bowl of rose oil and anoint his beloved and himself:
Blessed be your feet, with which you have walked the earth in your journey through the world, bringing you to unknown places and along familiar paths. May your feet be blessed as you begin the next part of your journey. May peace go before you, and blessings follow your footsteps always.
Blessed be your hands, with which you have touched life in its beauty and in its need. You have given your hand in friendship, held out your hands to those who were suffering, worked with your hands to create. May your hands be blessed and held firmly in hands of the Eternal forever. [and so on through eyes, ears, nostrils, and mouth.]
credits: Deep thanks to Kosu Boudreau for sending the blessing text; Kosu works as a hospital chaplain on hemodialysis and palliative units in Toronto; image: “blessing of a guest” in ancient Egypt.