Tomorrow is my 63rd birthday. Sixty-three is (in my estimation) a particularly laden birthday because it is seven nines – and seven and nine are important sacred numbers. There are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (there are also nine gifts of the Holy Spirit, if you use a different list), nine noble virtues from the ancient Norse, and seven deadly sins (important to know, if not to emulate). There are seven sacraments (if you are Roman Catholic; only two if you come from a Reformed tradition), the faithful make seven circuits of the Ka’ba in Mecca, and there are seven days of creation. All Baha’i temples have nine entrances, and there are nine basic Hindu beliefs…to name a few sevens and nines.
In the spirit of noting my manna moments, I am looking for the blessings and joys of all these sevens and nines, so that I don’t feel over-whelmed by portent. It is working for the most part, I think.
Many years ago – more years ago than I am going to admit – my first husband started a tradition that I kept even after the marriage ended. On our birthdays, we would write a birthday alphabet. We could list as many things as we wanted under each letter before we stored the alphabet away with all those that had gone before. I almost always write mine right into the journal I am using so that I don’t lose it between one year and the next…because I have a bad habit of filing precious things away in a safe place – so safe that I can never remember where it is and only stumble over it quite by mistake, often months after I really needed that precious thing.
Looking back over many years of these alphabets brings back special memories, and the tones of specific years. I will start this year’s birthday alphabet tomorrow and work on it for a week or so. And I may notice even as I write that something that I barely observed when it happened, has become the first entry for a particular letter. Or that a quality of character I rarely consider in my daily life, is front and center this year, appearing in more than one place. Some years are whimsical and light-hearted, others are fraught with meaning. It is an intriguing exercise and I recommend it to you.
This year, in honor of the importance of 63, and because I mentioned that being accountable can help me grow, I set myself the task of recording and sharing 63 blessings (and one to grow on). You may want to spend an hour thinking of your own list of 32 or 47 or 51 or 28 or whatever number has some meaning for you. Here are mine. I didn’t list people because that would cover the 63 many times over. This is not a carefully selected 63, not even (perhaps) the most important 63, just this 63…which is its own blessing because there are 63 x 63 x 63 more that I could mention. Here goes:
My breath, my fingers, my heartbeat, my legs and feet, my flexible spine, my sight, my hearing, my taste buds, my skin.
The courage to try new skills, the ability to understand new concepts, the urge to see new places, the joy of meeting new people, the challenge of hearing new opinions, the amazing possibilities of new knowledge, the delight of tasting new foods, waking up to a new day, learning a new dance.
The stone circles of Ireland and England, Chartres Cathedral, almost any garden anywhere, the Eiffel Tower, Skye, the Isles of Shoals, Moab, the Rockies at dawn, Mont St Michel.
Pie Jesu sung by Sarah Brightman, Con te Partiro sung by Andrea Boccelli and just about anyone he chooses, You Raise Me Up sung by Josh Groban, Unchained Melody sung by The Righteous Brothers, Pilgrim sung by Enya, any hymn at all sung with my daughter, Tree of Life by Audio Machine, any music that makes me want to clap or dance, the sound of my husband singing my daughter to sleep when she was a baby.
Books, antibiotics, refrigeration, anesthesia, telephones, computers, electricity, gravity, indoor plumbing.
The smell of sheets that have blown dry in the sun, the sound of rain on the roof, a cup of cocoa, bread fresh from the oven with unsalted butter, a glass of clean water, my husband’s hug, fresh flowers by my bedside, people I love gathered around a table, falling asleep.
Learning to read, brushing my teeth, kneading bread, beginning a fiber art piece, doing yoga, seeing a wild fox, watching moonrise, making love, giving birth…
And just sitting still, breathing, not doing, just being.
May your new year (and Thursday was Rosh Hoshanah, so everyone just began a new year) be filled with blessings.
Text © 2014, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2013, 2011, Immram Chara, LLC
NOTE: The photo of the stone circle is available as a card or print from the website Store.