Blessing is due for a revival. It has been understood to be an affirmation, an act of friendship, even a bestowing of divine favor. I see it as a means by which a public person – that would be all of us when we're up and about – can become one with the world. I am completely serious. Less than a year ago a little song came into my ear: “Blessings, blessings, blessings, blessings, blessings, on our way.” I made a little video of it and have posted it below. I do not actually sing this as I wander about. I do not want to be put away by the cops or the homeless patrol.

I sing it to myself.

What happens?

At first, I thought little of it, but then I noticed that it had a distinct effect on my own mood. I really did become a bit more universal, connected, open. Since I was talking to myself I began to go seriously outlandish. I would say, “Bless all you who are wailing and gnashing your teeth. Bless all you who are not wailing and not gnashing your teeth. Bless all who are being born. Bless all who are at the door of death.” And so forth. Eventually, I worked up to blessing everyone. I felt the world lifting a bit. I am not aspiring to be more than my octogenarian self.


I look at the world as being both heaven and Earth. Some things are Heavenly and others are not.

It all depends on us. When things are heavenly they go right even when tough times are unfolding. Life has a measure of love and comfort and positivity. When things are not heavenly, they are harsh and cruelty seems afoot, but there is nothing fixed about this picture. I can be walking along and seeing people coming and going but when I am in my blessing mode, singing my little song, the scene gets a little more heavenly.

I realize that heaven is people walking without coming to blows.

My Kurt Vonnegut story

I had lunch with Kurt Vonnegut one day during the late 1970s. He was on the board of the Albert Schweitzer Center which I was running at the time. We were walking up Third Avenue near his Manhattan home. He looked over and said, with some urgency, “Stephen, look at all these people.

What do you see?” “I don’t know,” I replied. “It’s amazing. They are walking up and down and not killing each other.” I may have forgotten the exact words but this was the sense. And he was right. We are never that far from being at war.

Blessing and nonviolence

The acts that make for the changes we need are simple. Blessing is perhaps one of them. Maybe it will catch on.

Blessing is a disposition toward peace. It is signaling that you carry no hostility. It is an openness to a world where, instead of being ruled, we rule ourselves.