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If you look at the stick long enough, you are bound to begin making it a character in your own story. It will begin to remind you of someone you know, or a piece of furniture you once saw in a craft co-op. There is nothing wrong with these associations, except that they take you away from the stick and back to yourself. To pronounce a blessing on something, it is important to see it as it is. What purpose did this stick serve? Did a bird sit on it? Did it bear leaves that sheltered the ground from the hottest summer sun?

At the very least, it participated in the deep mystery of drawing water from the ground, defying the law of gravity to deliver moisture to its leaves. How does a stick do that, especially one this size? Smell it. Is the scent of sap still there? This is no less than the artery of a tree that you are holding in your hand. Its tissue has come from the sun and from the earth. Put it back where you found it and it will turn back into earth again. Dust to dust and ashes to ashes. Will you say a blessing first? No one can hear you, so you may say whatever you like.

"Bless you, stick, for being you."

"Blessed are you, o stick, for turning dirt and sun into wood."

"Blessed are you, Lord God, for using this stick to stop me in my tracks."

As I said earlier, the practice itself will teach you what you need to know. Start throwing blessings around and chances are you will start noticing all kinds of things you never noticed before. Did you ever notice the white and black striped stockings on the stick legs of that blessed mosquito before? Did you ever notice the tiny purple flowers on that blessed moss? One liability of pronouncing blessings out of doors is that it gets hard to walk on things. Once you become aware of the life in them, the kinship can really slow you down.

The same is true of other people. The next time you are at the airport, try blessing the people sitting at the departure gate with you. Every one of them is dealing with something significant. See that mother trying to contain her explosive two-year-old? See that pock-faced boy with the huge belly? Even if you cannot know for sure what is going on with them, you can still give a care. They are on their way somewhere, the same way you are. They are between places too, with no more certainty than you about what will happen at the other end. Pronounce a silent blessing and pay attention to what happens in the air between you and that other person, all those other people.

How events in life can influence your spiritual practice

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