The Blessing in Chant

By Gunilla Norris

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It is a great blessing to have a tool that is as close as our breathing, a tool we can use in times of challenge and enjoy in times of gladness. Having a centering chant that is close to our hearts and has a ready place in our awareness is a tool of immense value. It can bring us to a heart-centered place where we cease making strangers of ourselves and others.

It takes a blessing habit to interrupt our automatic habits of separating ourselves from what is difficult and of assessing and judging ourselves and others. To find words that soften our hearts, words carried by a simple tune help us to transcend the barriers we build around ourselves. We are not changed so much by reformation as by transformation. A love song, a tiny chant to our God repeated daily and often helps us to return our focus to the profound generosity, inclusiveness, permission and love of God. Our automatic parts do not need restraint. They need restoration back into belonging and blessing. 

To be truly human means to know that we are always in ambiguous places inside and out. We will be revealed in our frailties. We will stand hip-high in our failures. Looking closely at any of our actions there will be self-preservation, self-serving, self-importance mixed with love, courage, service, devotion and humility. Being human is a mixed bag. We will always find ourselves with dirt on our hands of one kind or another. The welter of the world will not stop. We will always be mortal, vulnerable and human.

Imagine then how absolutely amazing and perhaps seemingly ludicrous it is to attest that a small song/prayer, a tiny chant can lift us back into mercy and blessing over and over again. Choose one. Take it to heart, take it to work, take it to sleep, take it to play. Taste it. Breathe it. Sense its tenderness in whatever mess you find yourself in. When challenges come, there it is in your heart and in your breath. Challenges will come and joy will come. And we are always in the loving mercy of God.

Please consider the possibility that a tiny chant deeply owned and practiced can bring more blessing into your life than you can possibly imagine. Give it a try. Why not begin to practice a heart’s song?

Gunilla Norris is the author of 11 books on the spirituality of the everyday. She and 
Frank Pendola, Music Minister at St. Vincent de Paul and Our Lady of Victory parishes in Rhode Island, have created this “Song & Silence” web page for people to select from a variety of their chants On January 18, 2020, they will co-facilitate the new Mercy by the Sea day program, “A Cup in Hand – A Day of Contemplative Reflection,” which will include guided exercises, discussion, journaling, chant and periods of Centering Prayer.