Sunday, June 28, 2020
Do not just count your blessings. Be the blessing other people count on. ~ Anonymous
The unthankful heart discovers no mercies, but the thankful heart will find in every hour some heavenly blessings. ~ Henry Ward Beecher
One of the joys of my job is people sometimes ask me to pronounce blessings. I usually place my hands on their head or hold their hands and when I say the words of blessing, I try to envision God’s grace moving through the person. I imagine Christ’s healing energy, pure light. Sometimes I bless animals or objects as well, but the blessing is still the same.
Over the years I have offered blessings to newborn puppies and old hound dogs slipping away. Each moment was sacred and holy. I have blessed houses, especially rooms that seem a little scary or not quite right. I place anointing oil in the room where the person would like it and say, “God of love and grace, bless this room with your Love, Joy, and Peace. May your light shine upon everyone who enters this room.” It is good to pronounce a blessing.
I blessed a car once that had been in a few “odd” accidents. “God, have mercy on this car. May it stay between the lanes and may it provide safety and wonderful journeys for its owner.” Then, I quietly offered a blessing for the car’s teenage driver. I placed the sign of the cross on his forehead and said, “May you love and care for your car and may you be attentive while you drive. May God bless you with clear vision and good reflexes.”
I get to bless newborn babies. “May God’s Grace shine down upon you each day. May you be blessed and may you be a blessing to the world. May your parents be blessed with patience and strength to care for you.” I bless people when they are dying. “May the Love and Peace of God be with you every moment. May God’s love permeate every cell of your body and fill you with wonder.”
And, I get to pronounce blessings upon two people who decide to commit their lives to each other. “God of Relationship bless these two people with your compassion. May they fall deeper and deeper in love with each other and may their home be a haven of blessing and peace.”
Can anyone pronounce a blessing? What is a blessing? Which things do we agree to bless, and which things do we decline to bless? Who/what does Jesus bless? Hint: God makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous (see Matthew 5:45).
Barbara Brown Taylor asks, “Is our job to confer holiness or to recognize it?” She suggests that we discover the beauty, the power, and the healing effects of blessings by pronouncing a few. “The practice itself will teach us what we need to know.”
So, what exactly is a blessing?
Father Ron Rolheiser refers to Dietrich Bonhoeffer who “once suggested that a blessing is a visible, perceptible, effective proximity of God.” When we sincerely bless someone or something we get as close to God as possible. God is a blessing being.
Genesis opens with God creating new things each day and at the end of each day God looks out over God’s creation and says, “This is good, very good.” Then God creates human beings and God blesses them. Please remember this, etch it in your heart, soul, and mind. “God blesses humankind.” (see Genesis 1:28). This is our original blessing and it has not stopped.
Spend time with this. God blesses us.
Just in case we might forget, when Jesus moves out of the baptismal waters, God’s voice says, “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.” Rolheiser writes that a more accurate translation might read, “This is my blessed child, in him I take delight!” God confers this same blessing on us.
“God delights in us,” Julian of Norwich said during the black plague. God delights in us during this pandemic. God delights in us during our political upheaval. God delights in us as we struggle with racism. God delights in us in the darkness.
Rolheiser says, “Jesus invites us to look at our lives and see ourselves always as blessed, no matter how bad our situation is: Blessed are you when you are poor, when you mourn, when you are hungry and thirsty, when people hate you, and when you are persecuted.” How is this possible?
“In all these situations, we are still God’s beloved, blessed, someone in whom God takes delight. We are blessed, no matter our circumstances in life. How could Jesus say such astonishing things? He knew his Father blessed him. He had been blessed and he knew his blessedness, felt it; and because of that he could live out of blessed consciousness.”
Jesus’ “sense of being blessed formed his eyesight.” How do we see the world? Do we know we are blessed?
During these difficult days, may we be still and receive God’s blessings.
May we live from blessed consciousness.
May we bless others and our world with our thoughts and actions.
May God’s Grace shine down upon us and through us each day.
May God bless us all,
Practice: This week silently or verbally sincerely offer blessings to people you see. Offer some blessings to trees, flowers, ants, and grasshoppers while you are at it. Have a blessed week!