Trying to out-bless people is much more fun than trying to outguess them. For this reason, I give you: The Blessing Game.
Sit in a circle. Whoever is so moved makes a blessing – any nice wish that that person wishes to wish on anyone else. Anyone else who is now so moved makes an even better blessing, trying to out bless the previous blessing.
Or, get in pairs. Put your hands on each other’s heads. Take turns out-blessing each other. Continue until you both feel truly blessed or have had enough of this loving silliness.
A round of out blessing might go like this:
- You say: May the fruits of your labors never spoil
- And I say: Amen. And may they all be delicious
- You say: Amen. And may they be always ripe
- And I say: Amen. May they be available in your local supermarket
- You say: On sale
Alternative Blessing Cycles
But if you do (or don’t, or isn’t)
- I say: May you never run out of toilet paper
- You say: Amen. But if you do, may there be a box of tissues near by
- I say: Ame. And if there isn’t, may there at least be a sink in easy reach
Combined with the standard out-blessing exchange:
- You say: With a clean towel right over it
- I say: And a bottle of antibacterial soap
- You say: And a can of deodorant
Followed by a return to the But If You Do or Don’t or Isn’t play:
- I say: And if there isn’t any deodorant, may there be a window
- You say: Amen. And may it be easy to open
- I say: Amen. And may it lead to someplace outside the building
- You say: Amen. And may there not be a hurricane
Blessing Game Starters
Here are some out-blessing starters, to help you get, well, started:
- May you be happier than a lark
- May you never be taken to be sillier than you want to be or more seriously than you think you are
- May this blessing make more sense to you than it does to me
- May your optimism be based in realism and your pessimism totally unfounded
- May you be wise enough to know how lucky you are, and v.v.
- May all your accidents be happy
- May you have as much money as you know what to do with
- May you look happier than you have a right to be, and feel happier than you look
- May your injuries heal before anyone adds insult to them
- May all those who bless you be blessed
- May your misery have company
- And finally, from a traditional Hebrew prayer: “May all the holes in your body that are supposed to be open stay open, and may all the other ones that should be closed stay closed.*
When my wonderful friend Zalman and his amazing wife were last in town, we arranged to meet in West LA for some hugs and Indian food. After dinner he and I and our delicious wives (Rocky, mine, Eve, his) were almost actually accosted by a briefcase carrying, suit-wearing man wielding a paperback book. Being the warm and terminally polite people we like to be, we were immediately subjected to a sales pitch of stunning complexity and only minimal coherence. He had written and published a book proving that Abraham’s little-known wife Keturah was the progenitor of most of the civilized world and Denmark (something about the tribe of Dan).
Now, Zalman is a biblical scholar of great depth and high repute. When the bookseller asked rhetorically, “and, how many people know who Abraham’s other wife was?” Zalman answered his question immediately. And yet never once in his entire monologue did the impassioned author deign to find out with whom he was actually speaking.
At the end of the pitch, the guy explained to us that he was going to offer us a very special opportunity. That for $20 dollars, he’d not only sell us his book, but sign it, personally.
“All right,” said Zalman, “I’ll make you a bargain. I’ll buy your book, but I want something extra.”
“Of course,” replied the self-proclaimed proclaimer, “I’ll be happy to dedicate it to you or any person of your choosing.”
“Thank you,” said Zalman, “but I want something else. Something even more special. I want your blessing.”
The fact is, I don’t remember what the blessing was. But I do remember how Zalman, with his simple request, transformed this whole somewhat seamy encounter into a profundly moving spiritual experience.
From that day on, I’ve made the Out-Blessing Game an integral part of my work.
Here are a few sources for more out-blessings and out-toasts:
- Some Jewish ecumenical blessings
- Sláinte! Toasts, Blessings, and Sayings
- Irish Blessings, Proverbs, Prayers and Toasts
- Irish Quotations, Irish Blessings Irish Proverbs and Irish Toasts
- Toasts and Blessings
- Irish Toasts and Blessings
- Irish Blessings
- Treasury of Toasts
- My Favorite Toasts
- This is a book of blessings, gathered from various sources