Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Spirit of Life: An Adult Program on Unitarian Universalist Spirituality

Activity 1: Story - A Hospital Blessing

Part of Spirit of Life

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Copy of the story "A Hospital Blessing"
  • Optional: Cordless microphone
  • Optional: Pulpit or podium

Preparation for Activity

  • Review the story and practice reading it aloud to ensure that you will present it effectively.
  • Optional: Copy the story for all participants.

Description of Activity

Invite participants to sit comfortably and listen to the story as you read aloud. You may wish to use a pulpit or podium and/or a cordless microphone to ensure that all participants can hear you. Pause at the conclusion. Then comment on the story, with these or similar words:

There is something so powerful about having the deep and sacred aspects of your work and your relations with people named. There is something sacred about having someone pay attention to you, hold your hands, honor what you do, and ask for your healing.

You may wish to share an example of such honoring from your own experience.

Talk with the group about rituals and blessings. Lead discussion with these or similar questions:

  • Listening to the story, what aspect of the blessing of the hands sounded most meaningful to you?
  • How did this ritual bless the participants?
  • What does "blessing" mean to you?
  • Do you feel we each have the capacity to bless others? If so, how?

Some participants may struggle to find an understanding of "blessing" that fits with their Unitarian Universalist beliefs and values. They may associate the notion of "blessing" with a god they no longer believe in, or with the hierarchy of their childhood religion. If you see the group getting stuck on their understanding of blessing, you can encourage them to think creatively about what blessing one another could mean in our democratic, theologically diverse community of faith. One way of thinking about "blessing" is as a recognition and sharing of abundance. The word berakah means "blessing" in both Arabic and Hebrew. Its ancient root word barak also means "liberal" and "pool." Pools of water, generous liberality, blessings-each of these things is an expression of abundance. We can think of blessing as recognizing and sharing abundance in the midst of scarcity; naming and expressing the abundance of spirit, abundance of compassion, and abundance of love that surrounds us, even when we or others cannot feel it.