“It would be lovely if we could rediscover our power to bless one another,” poet John O’Donohue wrote in his book, “To Bless the Space Between Us.” When I read this, I felt it in my bones.
I need a blessing.
O’Donohue says, “A blessing is a circle of light drawn around a person to protect, heal and strengthen…It is a gracious invocation where the human heart pleads with the Divine heart.”
My soul has grown weary in the last few months. The pandemic has brought disconnection, severed friendships, and tenuous communities, leaving me discouraged. I desire to feel grace poured over me. Like Jacob when he wrestled God, I’ve been struggling, and like Jacob, I won’t go without a blessing from God.
God blessed Abraham; speaking the words that he would be the father of a great nation. Isaac mistakenly spoke his blessing to Jacob instead of Esau. And our priests bless us at the end of each Mass. This blessing is a call, as we leave the church, to live the gospel, and to be a blessing to others.
The very thing I long for is what we are called to do. Sometimes God gives you a desire, so you will know how to give that very thing to others.
I have been looking for opportunities to give blessings. Blessing others, or actually speaking aloud what you see as good or hopeful for one’s life, is a kind of a prayer. It is helping another see God’s beauty and promise. There is a power in speaking and hearing these words aloud. It is as if at the very moment you are describing the world, you also speak it into being. By shining light, we all see more clearly.
Yes, I felt absolutely awkward the first few times I did it. It was about lessening my ego and being willing to look a little foolish.
Birthdays seemed like an easy place to begin. Instead of a simple text with a cake emoji, I’ve been sending voice texts where I read a poem or Scripture that encapsulates my birthday wish for the friend. My family has been sending short videos for one another. We each take a turn sharing a birthday wish, usually some sort of inside joke or a meal we once shared or that song that always reminds us of them.
Noticing a job well done is another blessing. Everyone needs to hear that their work is good and important.
I recently told a particularly cheerful barista, “You always have such a kind attitude. It is contagious. I leave here wanting to be kinder.” Or my son’s English teacher, “The project you assigned was so creative. My son was so interested in learning. You are a good teacher.” Or my neighbor who cares for her elderly mother “You move through this with so much grace. I am in awe.”
These blessings were received with blushing faces. It felt like worship to honor what is right in the world.
Acknowledge the good. Be specific to the person. Embolden them.
When you begin this blessing journey, you will find more opportunities, for example:
A new home: May these walls give rest to your bodies and your soul.
Birth of a child: May this child grow strong and wise and find favor with God.
A new job: May this work challenge you and use the gifts God has given you in new ways.
The best discovery in blessing others is that it returns to embrace me, too. I sense the grace I longed to be poured into my own life. I found encouragement for my weary soul.