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Excerpted from Blessing by David Spangler. Copyright © 2001 by David Spangler. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"We want alienation to be replaced with belonging, impoverishment with abundance, bondage with liberation, and darkness with light."

  David Spangler, Blessing, Part 1

This book was born one evening in the fall of 1965, though I didn't realize it at the time. I was twenty years old. I had harbored ambitions of becoming a molecular biologist, but answering an irresistible inner calling, I had left college and a degree program in biochemistry to cast my fate upon the very uncertain waters of being a lecturer on personal and spiritual development. On this particular evening, after I had finished my regular weekly lecture at a spiritual center in Los Angeles, I was approached by a well-dressed middle-aged woman who said, "Would you please give me a blessing?"

Give me a blessing.

If we gave voice to the most common wish within each of us, it would probably be this.

We look to the universe, to the world around us, to each other, and, if we are believers, to the invisible world of the sacred, and if we have one basic desire -- voiced or not, recognized or not -- it is that all these things be on our side. We want life to be our ally: helping us, empowering us, enabling us to be safe and happy. We want good things to come our way: our wounds healed, our loneliness banished, our power restored, our fears allayed. We want alienation to be replaced with belonging, impoverishment with abundance, bondage with liberation, and darkness with light.

We want to be blessed.

And in our better moments, we want to be a blessing for others.

Give me a blessing.

Years later, I am at an informal gathering of laypeople attending a conference on science and spirituality. During a meal break, we collect in a loose circle and the conference leader asks, "Who would like to give a blessing before we eat?" There is a moment of uncomfortable silence. No one volunteers. Had our host said, "Would anyone like to say a few words before we eat?" a half-dozen voices might have spoken out, but to stand up and give a blessing? It seems presumptuous. Finally, one man speaks a few words, and I can see relief on the faces of others. I feel relief myself. Why? What is it about giving a blessing that makes a person feel uncomfortable?

Give me a blessing.

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