May the Force Be With You!
Blessing Practices for Aspiring Jedis and Other Spiritual Seekers
Bless you, and you, and you. Be inspired by the Jedi and dive into blessings.
“May the fourth be with you!“ I yell with excitement. “And also with you!” responds my Catholic colleague.
Yes, it’s the fourth of May—a quasi holy day for those of us raised on the Star Wars movies. Of course, we aspiring Jedis don’t relegate this phrase merely to one day. Indeed, we’re apt to request the Force to be with you on any day of the year.
And while not every Force fan would call this a blessing, that’s precisely what it is.
Admittedly, for some of us, the word blessing can be slippery, our primary reference—beyond meal times and sneezing—being, “Bless me, father, for I have sinned.” Yet, writing off blessings as an act relegated to the clergy or a specific religious institution is a missed opportunity.
A blessing does not require a particular ritual, nor need it occur in a specific location. The practice can be done anywhere, by anyone. Indeed, it should be. Blessing is an energy filled with intention that needs to be shared from the heart and with bountiful spirit. The act of blessing can shift our focus from our ego to those around us, making us more attuned to the joys and challenges other people and beings face.
“Blessings are life-giving only as long as we pass them on,” offers Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast.
Amusingly, the practice is not limited to Star Wars. Spock propelled “Live long and prosper!” across the universe. The Hunger Games offered us, “May the odds be ever in your favor!” And, these days, Vanessa Zoltan, cohost of the wildly popular Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, offers a book character a blessing at the end of her podcast episodes.
If you find yourself still struggling with the concept—or the word itself—use one of these related ideas: lovingkindness, being grateful, offering peace, or being kind. In many ways, the practice is about being rather than doing, as you intuit moments to offer a silent, verbal, or physical blessing. These instances need not be confined to the humans around you. Consider saying a few words for the hope of healing our planet. Or for the life of a passed-on animal on a roadside.
How to start a daily blessing practice:
- Start your day by tuning in to the flow of life force within yourself.
- With your breakfast or morning coffee, think about what you are grateful for. Create your own blessings, beginning with the word may. Here’s a thought-starter from author, environmentalist, and animal rights activist John Robbins: “May all be fed. May all be healed. May all be loved.”
- Throughout the day, expand beyond yourself. For each person you pass who looks like they are having a hard day, repeat silently: “May you find peace.”
- Continue looking for moments of blessing. Say “Gesundheit!” when someone sneezes. Offer a coworker, “May the Force be with you!”
- End your day with a blessing. As you turn out the lights, whisper aloud, “May all beings be free from pain and exploitation. May they be happy, joyous, and free.”
More creative ideas:
- Light a virtual blessing candle for someone who needs support.
- Explore blessing practices from your spiritual tradition. (To wit: Did you know the Vulcan salute is based on a Jewish hand gesture performed by the ancient Levitical priests?)
- Read Blessing the Animals: Prayers and Ceremonies to Celebrate God’s Creatures, Wild and Tame by Lynn L. Caruso.
- Get involved with Blessings in a Backpack to help elementary school children across America who might otherwise go hungry.
- Read “Roadside Blessings: Conscious Driving Practices for Animal Lovers.”
More About the Jedi Phenomenon
In 2001, more than 70,000 people embraced the Force of Star Wars, identifying religiously as Jedi in a census taken by the Australian Board of Statistics. Another 390,127 Jedi showed up on the UK’s census that year. Since then, people across the globe have claimed Jediism as their life philosophy.
While there has been some speculation about how many of these census takers are answering “seriously,” the documentary American Jedi shines a light on just how real the philosophy can be for some of its followers, chronicling three people healing from the emotional wounds of rape, marital infidelity, and youthful indiscretions. Going beyond sheer fandom, these members of an American Jedi Order are earnest about their practice of an applied religious philosophy inspired by Star Wars. While many people may not consider their mythology to be on par with the Buddha, Krishna, Muhammad, or Jesus (or myriad other spiritual all-stars), a Jedi might ask people to dig further. The value of a myth is not in how true it is but in how deeply one connects with it. And how it affects our lives.