“You show me the path of life.” – Psalm 16:11
“We must remember the worlds our ancestors traveled,” writes Luci Tapahanso, the Poet Laureate of the Dine (Navajo) people.
“Always wear the songs they gave us…
Remember we are made of prayers.
Now we leave, wrapped in blankets of love and wisdom.”
Tapahanso draws deeply on the Dine understanding of hozhoni, a word that means both beauty and blessing. Central to Dine spiritual traditions is the hozhoniji or Blessingway, a healing prayer ceremony. Unlike other healing ceremonies, the Blessingway’s purpose isn’t to cure illness, but instead to restore right relationships with one’s self, other people, the rest of creation, and even the cosmos.
Throughout the Blessingway, one prays for that balance and harmony: “May it be blessed before me, may it blessed behind me, may it be blessed above me and below me, may it be blessed all around me. May I always walk in blessing.”
Psalm 16 also prays for God’s presence to surround the journey. “I keep the Lord always before me;” the Psalmist proclaims, “God is at my right hand.” Like the Blessingway, Psalm 16 affirms the blessing of that presence: “Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices … You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy.”
The path of life. The way of blessing. Whether Hebrew or Dine, the promise is the same. God is with us on the journey, wrapping us in blankets of love and wisdom, blessing us with beauty every step of the way.
May we remember we are made of prayers. May we know God’s path of life. May we always walk in blessing. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Part 1 and Mark Part 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.