Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community

Positive Aging Block: July 2022 – Prayer, Blessing and Aging

Prayer, Blessing and Aging

by Susan Frieband

As we age, the inner, spiritual dimension of everyday living often becomes more important. Prayer and blessing are ways to bring awareness, sensitivity and gratitude into everyday life.

A simple Hebrew blessing, according to Rabbi Marcia Prager (in her insightful book, THE PATH OF BLESSING, N.Y., Bell Tower, 1998, p. 4), explores the nature of the Creative Force we call God, and the dynamic relationship between God, human consciousness and the unfolding universe. Through the practice of blessing, she writes, “we develop an ever-deepening receptivity to the abundant love and joy flowing through Creation”.

The question arises, what is the difference between a prayer and a blessing? A prayer can be thought of as a conversation with God, a bridge between man and God. A.J. Heschel writes of prayer as a home for the soul, a way of seeing the world in a different setting where God is the source toward which all forces flow. Prayer has been viewed as a turning of the heart to God, an encounter between the I and the great Thou. Prayer can take many forms, as does blessing. It’s clear that the tradition of prayer and blessing is woven into the matrix of Jewish spiritual practice that informs the whole of life and living, especially during elder years. This poem I wrote reflects these ideas.

To uplift, energize, shift mood and feeling,
provide comfort, strength, support;
connection to ritual, tradition, past and present,
to the Jewish people, a civilization
that’s survived, grown, evolved,
transformed over thousands of years.

Feelings and thoughts built from language,
words put together with intention and care,
awareness and concern,
so that meaning flows gratefully from the heart
to be listened to, heard, from the inside out.
Some of it blessing,
to bring praise, hope, reflection, change,
renew and reenergize what it means to be human
alive, aware, present and holy.

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