“The Gentle Art of Blessing – A Simple Practice That Will Transform You and Your World” by Pierre Pradervand
A Book Review
Initially I picked up this book at my local Barnes and Noble bookstore because the title and decorations on the cover looked calming. In my hectic life, reading is often a source of entertainment, of learning and at times of healing. I perceive this as a healing and educational sort of book.
Besides his book, Pierre Pradervand has a website that describes his life work: http://www.gentleartofblessing.com
The premise of this piece is to encourage everyone to consciously bless others–even if they’ve directly wronged you or others. The author uses extensive references from Christianity, Native American wisdom, Arab proverbs and other cultures around the globe.
An excerpt from his book that encapsulates a mini-version of his discourse style:
“That is why loving unconditionally is the most important activity in the whole universe, and the one most able to produce the deepest happiness. We do not love unconditionally to satisfy some abstract moral law or some faraway deity. As the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, wrote, ‘You love because you love. There is no reason to love.’ If the very ground of our being, our very essence, is love–which is one of the postulates of this book–then love is simply the most genuine, the most natural expression of our true being. And in active love, we will also discover a wonderful path toward happiness, health, and fulfillment–but it will be an unintended result, so to speak.”
As I write this book review, I freely admit that I haven’t completed reading–It is one of those books, however, that keeps on giving even if you are only able to read a few pages at a time over the course of several months.
A Cautionary, yet Comical Tale: How One Takes Inspiration to Action
In the wake of reading an incredible chapter from “The Gentle Art of Blessing”, I felt confident driving out during a recent Monday morning with a certain set of goals in mind for my children and I.
It all began with getting the boys packed up quickly in the car after I received a call-back from my women’s health physician’s office that they were able to squeeze me in immediately.
After frantically rushing through stubborn traffic patterns, I made it upstairs to the second floor with my kids for what I thought would be a short 5 minute wait. The waiting room wait was more like 50 minutes–the ball beads and wire toy on the floor lasted as entertainment for about 15 minutes–not enough for my energetic little ones.
My name was called and we were checked in by the nurse into the examination room. Figured this meant I’d be seen shortly after I dressed myself in an attractive paper sheet while also refereeing the under-stimulated offspring that were now quite set on getting each other all ruffled up for jest and jeering purposes.
I cannot come up with a figure for how long I waited in there because ultimately when the nurse practitioner came in she was attentive and efficiently thorough with me. In fact, she even had someone in training along with her who was quite helpful in distracting the youngest to my left while I could maintain eye contact with the older child to my right–priceless when one is quite helplessly laid back on the examination table.
Thankfully when I left the doctor’s office I was ready to pursue the course of action intended to assist me in being healthy again as soon as the pharmacy could fill the prescription. Now I faced the minor problem of our vehicle nearly out of fuel and we were late for our next appointment. So I called the office to alert them and although they assured me it was fine whenever I made it, I felt guilty for being tardy all the same.
This brings me to the climax point of my small and common tale: I turned out of the medical plaza area and drove down the road a little bit to turn into the very next gas station. Upon rolling up to the pumps I noticed that the space was cramped with cars at each fueling kiosk and it was difficult to get in the right position to fuel up (my gas cap is on the right side of the car). This was a challenge, but I assured myself that all was well and it would work out as it should.
It took me a few minutes of circling around the four lanes of gas pumps available but I found the right spot to pull up behind a Bentley–mind you, I’m in my 12-year-old beat-up mama SUV. Assuming I was in the home stretch of this thwarted morning, I swiped my credit card anticipating the display prompts like “please enter your zip code” and so forth to begin fueling already.
Alas, I got the dreaded “please see the cashier”. You know, the one person you really don’t care to see or walk all the way across the fueling and parking area to go inside and complain that your card is not registering on the supposedly convenient digital outdoor gas pumps.
Once inside I was able to clear up the little set-back after pleading that I didn’t have my ID on me and head back outside again to finish the job. I saw the back door was open and rushed over and in a relieved-but-furious manner scolded my oldest for having opened the door in the first place. As I closed the car door I hear a woman’s voice raised in a near-yell, “Excuse me, excuse ME…”
I turn to my right to face the middle-aged looking woman with a blonde up-do, brightly colored with floral pattern sundress who is standing with one hand on her hips and the other on her shiny, cherry red sports car. I lock eyes with her and she continues in the same irritable tone: “Can you please move your car? I can’t reach my gas door!”
There was a good full second or two that passed as I stood in shock just looking at her deep into her eyes, the noise level and harsh tone hanging in the air between us. My anger lit quick and intensely hot inside like that moment you throw a match onto a pile of charcoal that’s drenched with lighter fluid in the outdoor grill (for those of us still using that archaic method).
Somehow how I managed to mechanically respond in a deliberately trying-to-be-nice voice that “Yes, I would be happy to help you–a nicer tone would be nice though”, as I was simultaneously aware that my carnal instinct was to rush at her with all possible physical force and throttle her and yet cognizant that my impressionable young sons were witnessing every moment transpiring.
As I marched in front of my vehicle (left, right, left, right…do NOT start running at her), I kept watching her as she explained hastily that she had tried the “nice” route by yelling after me before–as in when I was walking into see the holy cashier to beseech that they take my money so I could fuel up, endure a verbal lashing from a complete stranger and somehow make it to the late appointment for my children. “I’m late for work!” she blurts out as I’m entering my car to back up and fight every urge in my right hand to throw the gear into ‘drive’ instead of reverse.
I exaggerated my backing up of the car and found myself stretching the gas pump to reach my own fuel door–too prideful to move again I made it work somehow. The anger was boiling inside me, like a lava flow that’s got to go somewhere, it festered and was pouring out of my mouth and I was trying to direct its wild track into “the gentle art of blessing” as impossible as that seems.
Silly as it sounds, the first thing I did was make a triplicate sign of the cross with my right hand toward her muttering in a barely audible, but don’t-care-if-it’s-heard voice, “God bless you because I can’t right now”…that at least started to help ease the caustic edge of my fury by transferring the full ability to love to Someone a little better capable at the moment. Then, I kept mumbling to myself that I want to understand her and am just hurt because I really didn’t mean to foul up her morning–I was barely keeping afloat in my own planet of experience this beautiful Monday morning.
Then a calmness came over me and I looked over her way again now that we were closer together and pumping gas respectively and said in a soft manner, “You know, I didn’t mean to park that way, I just pulled up as far as the guy’s car before would allow me”–without looking at me she quickly replied, “I know, it’s okay…” (It sounded apologetic too, much improved from our first interaction).
As comic relief would have it in our cosmos, our gas pumps clicked at the same time indicating our cars were satisfied. “Have a good day”, she said with a definitive and much kinder tone to me as she closed her fuel cap, “you too” I said with a relieved sigh. Thank God we both were walking away a little bruised but able to heal quickly and move on with life without holding each other in a grudge–or worse, paying forward our mutual frustration to any other unsuspecting souls.
Again, I understand that reading is difficult for many of us to do with our respective, hectic lifestyles–but if there was one book I recommend having at your night stand it would be this “The Gentle Art of Blessing” by Pierre Pradervand. He has a talent for speaking to everyone, no matter what religious background or lack thereof. The stories shared are the kind we find in many family oral traditions. Ultimately, Pradervand acknowledges the universal truth that we are all connected somehow and Love begets Love.