This Mother's Day, Bless Your Mother

05/05/2011 02:38 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Blessing our children is as old as Genesis. The ethical will was modeled after Jacob blessing his sons before his death (Genesis 49). Earlier, after Jacob stole his brother's blessing, Esau approaches Isaac to ask the question we all ask, aloud or in our hearts, no matter how old we are: "Have you no blessing for me, father?" (Genesis 27:38).

Even in the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan, the violence rocking the Mideast, floods, tornados and loss everywhere, we find ourselves noticing new life and growth, and we celebrate spring. New babies bring hope -- be they hungry birds chirping in their nests, ducklings quacking in ponds, blossoms in their vibrant dress nodding hello to the sun or we humans celebrating the many occasions and family events of the season. Everyone hungers to be blessed. There is much to feel blessed about.

Blessings are at the core of legacy writing. Just a few of the opportunities to write blessings at this time of year include Mothers' Day, new babies, confirmations, graduations, and of course the weddings and anniversaries of June.

"To give someone a blessing is the most significant affirmation we can offer."
--Henri Nouwen

When we write blessings to celebrate the moment and the people, we are responding to the need for nurture we all have: the ones who bless and those who receive the blessing. Blessings are a special glue, strengthening the bond of family, affirming caring among its members, explicitly appreciating each other and the special moment. Writing legacy blessings are a powerful way to honor our covenant with the past and the future.

Recently a friend traveled across the country to celebrate his 80-year-old father's birthday. He and each of his siblings blessed their dad in a legacy letter, defining the lessons he had taught them, and expressing appreciation about how those values continue to impact their lives. What a gift to an aging parent, and a blessing drawing the grown siblings close at a joyous time before the potential stresses of the future.

Here's an excerpt of a blessing by a mother to her son, who's about to become a father:

I remember when you were a small boy. When asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, you once answered, "A daddy." Here you are! I wish for you the joy of a busy, messy, loud house I wish for you a fridge covered in art projects and spelling tests. May you feel the pride of hearing a line in a Christmas play well-spoken. I wish you the rich, rich texture of a family life that is uniquely yours. I wish for you, dear son, a small measure of the immense love and joy you have brought to me.

Mother's Day, often joyful, sometimes stressful, and like all holidays, a time when old regrets and disappointments show up no matter how carefully planned the gathering. There is hope of healing when the focus is on a favorite story about mom recalled and retold by each family member. The stories can easily be gathered electronically: begun and ended with a blessing of mother, honoring her and the family's special memories and moments. Laughter and fond memories can ease old tensions. Future generations will cherish a view of their grandmother or great grandmother not in role, but as a person of her time, a woman with values, desires and dreams of her own.

Here's a blessing by a son for his special mother, reread by the two of them each year since it was first written:

Early in life you showed what true sacrifice is. As I fell into the depths of drug addiction, your unconditional love never wavered and you are still my biggest fan. You have given me hope that love can conquer all things and that change is possible in even the darkest of moments....I share this with you because I don't ever want to wake up without you knowing how much I appreciate your love and guidance.

Suggestions for Action:

"To bless ... a moment in which the gift of ourselves flows to another with a depth that only spirit can provide."
--David Spangler

  1. In preparation, write a list of the occasions of this season that your family members, friends, colleagues, and community are celebrating, noting the dates and the addresses you'll need.
  2. Prioritize the list by date, with the nearest in time first, and farthest out in time at the end.
  3. Reflect about what you love, admire, and cherish about the person you are going to write the blessing to/for. Reflect too about the occasion for the blessing.
  4. Draft your blessing, spending from five to 15 minutes writing; no more.
  5. Put the writing away for at least one day, while you find or make a beautiful card suitable for your blessing for the person and the occasion.
  6. "The one who blesses becomes an agent of self-realization and fulfillment for the one who receives the blessing."
    --Lawrence Kushner

  7. Return to the blessing to edit it, making sure that the words convey the message and meaning of your blessing. Write the finished version on your card and mail it. (Keep a copy for yourself of each blessing you write, preserving a compendium of your blessings to those you love in your own legacy file.)

"May your loved ones be nurtured, cherished and loved by the words and intention of your blessings, today and always."
--Rachael Freed