I organized this book by chapters that contain different types of blessings. “Through the Day” includes prayers that celebrate God’s presence in each moment of the day, from waking to sleeping. In “Holy Moments” I’ve encompassed a variety of prayers that acknowledge the richness of life’s gifts—the love of pets, the ritual of morning coffee (or your favorite morning beverage), the holy gift of discovering a bird’s nest. This chapter includes one of my favorite forms of blessing, “Bless to me” prayers.
The chapter “Seasons,” contains prayers that mark our journeys through each year from New Year’s Day through Christmas. “Passages” contains prayers for special moments in our lives such as births, marriages, and graduations. “Heart Prayers” are blessings of the world and its people.
In the chapter “The Struggling Times,” I’ve written blessings for the many stages of hurt, illness, grief, and death that we face as we walk through life. I hope these will offer comfort to you and to those with whom you share this resource.
The book closes with an acknowledgment that “God Is In” our spirits, our relationships, our communities, our world. God is in each of us, and we are grateful.
Bless to Me Prayers
The “Bless to me” prayer is an ancient Celtic form. The prayer focuses on a tool, item, or activity in an expression of gratitude, celebrating the gift of this object or activity and the way it contributes to the pray-er’s life. It is a prayer of the present moment, a specific acknowledgment of the presence of the holy, right now in this place.
Bless to me this kitchen, this truck, this walking the dog, this pillow, this washing of the dishes. Bless to me this bird song, this quiet before sunrise, these falling leaves. When I am fully present in this moment then I have taken the first step in crafting a “Bless to me” prayer. I hope you will find yourself writing these prayers in your journal or upon your heart.
My “Celtic Clay”
Nestled at the beginning of each chapter I have included a story or reflection about the life of my grandfather, Tom Wilson. Grandpa shaped my life in significant ways and in his life my Celtic roots are grounded.
Grandpa lived an amazing life full of adventures. He was a storyteller, so I grew up knowing the stories of his life, the stories of where I came from.
Grandpa was my mother’s dad. He exerted the most positive influence on my childhood. He helped me know deep down to my core that I was loved unconditionally by him and by God. He resonated with true goodness in the world.
Grandpa was born in South Africa, the son of an English father and an Irish mother who had immigrated to South Africa from their respective countries, settled in Kimberley, met, married, and had a family. John Wilson, a native of England, met and married Margaret Griffin, from Ireland. They had three children: Tom and Jack were twins. Their younger sister was Eileen. When Grandpa was ten years old, his family traveled to England so that Grandpa’s twin brother, Jack, could have surgery on his arm. (Jack had broken his arm, and the doctors in South Africa were unable to fix it properly. John and Margaret intended for him to have surgery in England to save the use of his arm.) Little sister, Eileen, was eight years old. They took passage from Cape Town on the passenger ship Balmoral Castle. But World War I was breaking out. By the time they reached England, the country was at war, the surgeon they were to see had been drafted, and civilian travel back to South Africa was impossible.
Unable to return home, the family visited County Clare, Ireland, and spent several months with Grandpa’s mother’s family on the farm where she grew up. Grandpa’s grandmother, Mary Touhy Griffin, lived on a farm with her son, Jim, and his wife, Mariah. The Wilsons stayed there long enough for the children to enroll in school and get to know their Irish roots a little bit. In stories that we heard from Grandpa, he noted that the schoolmaster in County Clare treated him and his siblings unkindly. He had no fondness for the British, and these three children had a British father.
Great-grandpa Wilson was trying to determine how to get the family back to their home in South Africa. He figured that the only way to get home entailed traveling through a country that was not involved in the war. Since the United States had not entered the war, the family bought passage to New York. They planned to visit relatives in Oklahoma and then return to South Africa by taking a ship from Galveston, Texas. In May of 1915, the family was waiting in Liverpool, England, with tickets to travel to the United States on the Lusitania. The Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of Ireland as it headed for port in Liverpool.
The family remained in England, awaiting the next ship that could take them to the United States. They embarked from Liverpool on the American liner Philadelphia with a number of the Lusitania survivors. Grandpa recalled that the fearful survivors would stay up on deck for most of the passage from England to New York.
By the time the family made it to the United States and then on to Oklahoma, the country stood on the verge of entering the war; the American lives lost in the sinking of the Lusitania had contributed to the call for war.
The Wilson family had traveled to southwestern Oklahoma near Lawton to visit Grandpa’s aunt Mary Griffin Scott. The United States’ declaration of war halted civilian travel, and the Wilsons found themselves stranded again. By the end of World War I, the family had no money to travel back home. Greatgrandpa Wilson, having never farmed a day of his life, nevertheless bought a farm in southwestern Oklahoma and began to eke out a life for them in this new place.
This unusual pilgrimage from South Africa to Oklahoma changed the course of their lives, luckily for me. I was born with this rich legacy of courage and adaptability, and a deep gratitude for life, whatever it presents.