Fresh, solid, and free. {A birthday benediction}

Fresh, solid, and free. | Modern Mrs Darcy

Because it’s my birthday, and I couldn’t think of better words to begin the year ahead. I know this is a keeper because I originally wrote this two years ago today, and continue to think about these words all the time. There’s so much to ponder, and it continues to express what I want in my life, and the lives of those around me. 

Not too long ago, my pastor closed the service with a benediction that had me scrambling for a pen so I could take it with me.

It’s my birthday. I tend to indulge annually in a bit of pre-birthday navel-gazing. This year, as I look back on the year before and think about what I want from the year ahead, my thoughts keep coming back to that benediction, from Thomas Merton:

May you be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit. May you live in safety. May you be free from anxiety and worry.  May you learn to look at yourself with the eyes of understanding and love. May you be able to recognize and touch the seeds of joy and happiness in yourself. May you know how to nourish the seeds of joy in yourself everyday. May you be able to live fresh, solid, and free. May you be free from aversion, but not indifferent.

These 86 words touch on so much of what I want for the coming year: to be peaceful, happy, and light. To live in safety—and to do what I can to make that possible for others. To be free from anxiety. To look at myself with understanding and love. To nourish seeds of joy in myself, and others. To be free from aversion. To live fresh, solid, and free.

I’m adopting these words as my birthday benediction, for today and for the coming year.

It may be my birthday, but I’m wishing these things for all of you, today and for the coming year. May you, too, be able to live fresh, solid, and free.

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35 things I've learned in 35 years | Modern Mrs Darcy

For a more lighthearted take on birthdays, check out this post from a previous year. I’m still trying to figure out what to add for this year ….

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  1. Courtney Milam says:

    Happy Birthday, Anne! Didn’t know we had birthdays in common! Us and Harrison Ford. ? Thankful for your words, and your infinite book wisdom. Always look forward to your posts and podcast episodes! Blessings to you on this next year!

  2. Cheryl Powers says:

    Happy Birthday! Didn’t know we shared that too. Love the benediction, definitely a blessing for the year.

  3. Pam Peeler says:

    I’m a lot older, but today is my birthday also! Friday the 13th is never unlucky for me! Love reading your posts and reading books you recommend. Thanks for sharing the beautiful blessing.

  4. Heather says:

    Happy Birthday!! I loved the benediction and I’ll need to save that! I have three relatives that have birthdays today too 🙂

  5. BarbaraV says:

    Happy birthday! Love that benediction! Thank you for all the book insights! My reading game has blossomed this year! Enjoy your day!

  6. Melanie M says:

    Happy birthday, Anne! May it be a day full of joy and a year full of blessings. Thanks for your beautiful contribution to the inter webs.

  7. danielle hutton says:

    Happy Birthday, Anne! I cannot believe we share the same birthday! I have been listening to you for many months now all the way from Switzerland (where we spend summers) and Florida, where we live the rest of the year! I am celebrating many more years than you today, but ever since I discovered your podcast, I found out that we share many opinions, interests….not surprising now that we were born the same day!!?
    May you be successful for many years to come for our pleasure, all the book lovers around the world! By the way, I love your laugh, and your podcast is like sunshine in my life!
    Have a day filled with fun and love! ??

  8. Tory Evans says:

    Happy Birthday! If my math is right, this is one of those birthdays that ends in 0? You, Laura Vanderkam, and I were all born in the same year! For some reason this seems really significant to me, that two of my favorite blogger/writer/readers are the same age as me 🙂 We all have four children too, although I got a later start (stupid fertility problems back in my 20s!) and my #4 won’t be born for another month or so. So basically we’re all BFFs (just letting you know since you probably had no idea.) 😀

  9. Elizabeth Brink says:

    Happy Birthday Anne and so many other commenters! Here’s another lovely prayer/benediction from Evensong by Gail Godwin: “Lord, grant us passage through these and all our other transitions. Teach us to befriend our own strange and unsightly edges so that we may better befriend others, and keep alive in us imagination and courage of heart.”

  10. Leisa says:

    Happy birthday!! It’s my birthday too! Thank you for this. I think I might copy that prayer down so I can read it every so often.

  11. Ruthie says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Anne and all you other Lucky Friday 13-ers!!! May the wishes in the lovely benediction be your truth through the coming year and beyond!

  12. Julie says:

    This is absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing- I copied it into my bullet journal. Wishing you a wonderful birthday.

  13. Erica says:

    Happy birthday, Anne! Thank you so much for all your hard work encouraging a love and appreciation of reading! You have so much for my reading life and I know that’s true for so many others. Have a wonderful day!

  14. Carol says:

    Happy Birthday! Today is my birthday as well. I have had this benediction posted on my bulletin board since you posted it two years ago. Thank you.

  15. Judy H. says:

    Happy Birthday Anne! Best wishes to you for a beautiful day and for a yearful of each mind and soul-nourishing blessing contained in Thomas Merton’s thoughtful benediction.
    Today is my Mother’s 83rd birthday. Our plans had been for my 3 sisters and me to take her out for a special lunch and an afternoon visit to a new installation at the art museum. Yesterday afternoon, while getting her weekly manicure at the nail salon, she suddenly passed out and was taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital. My poor Dad was out running errands when the hospital contacted him to tell him my Mother had been admitted. I live about 130 miles away from my parents, my Dad insisted I “stay put” until tomorrow. Fortunately, my youngest sister lives only 5 miles from them, so she is hovering over Mother and taking care of my worried Dad.
    Thank you for giving your readers this gift you chose to give to yourself. I’m going to write these words down and share them with my Mother tomorrow. Isn’t it always the simplest, loveliest and most heartful gifts that find their way perfectly into the hearts of so many? Time, space, or age matter not…only the heart. Once again, wishing you the happiest of birthdays and thanking you from my heart.

  16. Mary Ann says:

    Happy birthday Anne! And to the rest of my fellow MMD followers who are celebrating this special day. What a wonderful benediction. May all those blessings of peace, happiness and light shine upon you all. Thank you Anne for sharing your seeds of joy with us all.

  17. Teri Stich says:

    What wonderfully inspiring words. I shall keep them and their meaning close, and share them with others. May your birthday and always be filled with the magic of life.

  18. Stefanie says:

    Thank you for linking in the blackberries on the vine post. Its one that I am sure I read then in my late twenties and did not realize until now… mid-thirties what it really meant. It is the right time in my life to reread that post as I am still learning so much about what I want from life and have asked myself… it’s taken you 35+ years to figure this out? Yes it has, and I’m still figuring it out and it’s ok. Some berries may look ripe, but need a bit more time on the vine.
    Happy birthday Anne! Thanks for all the years of sharing your wisdom on this blog.

  19. Florece says:

    Hi Anne, Such a lovely post. I believe the loving-kindness meditation that you have noted is attributed to Thich Nhat Hanh and is included as a preface to a book by Thomas Merton – Contemplative Prayer. If this is not correct I would love to be pointed in the right direction. Abundant blessings to you every single day.

  20. Kim Little says:

    Happy Birthday to you! I sure hope you get to pop over to the Jane Austen’s festival… that is on my literary bucket list!

  21. Mary Taylor says:

    Happy Birthday. It is my 65th birthday today.As each year comes, so glad for the lord’s good grace. I have health, friends and,family that showers me with love.Happy to start the coming year with my art to do,and always tons to read. Wishing you a wonderful year,too! Mary Taylor P.S. Love Mrs. Darcy,helped me so much with my reading life

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