From The Gentle Art of Blessing
Thanks to this gentle art, I started having rather amazing experiences. One such incident occurred when in my position as a volunteer in a world campaign against hunger, I organized a benefit concert on World Food Day (October 16), the proceeds of which were to be sent to several peasant-farmer groups in southern Senegal. An Afro-Caribbean orchestra managed by a friend of mine was offering its services free of charge for the concert, which had been advertised both on the radio and in local newspapers. The technician of the large college hall where the concert was to be held showed, for no apparent reason, immense hostility toward the project from the start. He wanted nothing to do with it. We even had to bring in a second technician to handle the sound system and lighting.
Two hours before the concert, the first technician took nearly all the microphones off the stage. My friend was categorical: impossible to have only two mikes for a ten-person orchestra with vocalists! So we went to see the technician. Right from the beginning of our discussion, he maintained his hostility. My initial reaction was anger, but just as quickly I knew anger would not heal the situation. And the public was to arrive in less than two hours! So as the technician argued with my friend, I silently started blessing him: in his goodness, his abundance, his integrity, his health, and his relationships – in every way I could imagine. Suddenly, between two sentences, his attitude changed completely. Where a few seconds earlier we had seen a hate-filled expression, suddenly a beautiful smile appeared. He went to his lab, came back with a pile of mikes, recommended the best ones to my friend, and wished us a wonderful evening.
On another occasion, I was finishing a book chronicling my research on grassroots development in Africa, which had involved visiting over one hundred villages all over the continent. I had undertaken this research as an act of faith, with the desire to correct the erroneous, negative picture of Africa most people have. I trusted that if I wrote a good book, I would find a publisher.
As I was concluding the writing, I met a person who had experience in publishing in France. We became instant friends, and he suggested I send him the finished manuscript, offering to forward it to a friend in a good publishing house. Once finished, I phoned to say I was about to send him the manuscript. I also mentioned that I had a literary agent, as I hoped to publish the book in other languages, too. The minute I mentioned the term, literary agent, he exploded with the most vulgar expletives. “As long as you have an agent, don’t count on me,” he said, slamming down the phone. Taken aback, I thought he must have had a painful experience with a literary agent.
Because I didn’t want to keep in mind a negative picture of my new friend, every time he crossed my mind in the following days, I blessed him. About ten days later, he called, as if nothing had happened, to suggest that I tell my agent to send the manuscript to his friend who worked as director of a publishing house. He would write to this person and recommend my book.
The result was that the book was accepted immediately for publication by an excellent publisher. My agent told me that in twenty years in the field, she had never seen a book published so quickly. At the last minute, the publishing house even advanced the date of publication so that the book could appear in time for an international book fair. My friend was able to obtain a preface for the book by a leading European politician, who was highly respected for his knowledge of Africa. I could not have dreamed for more!