Composed by Peter Elacqua
The Gospels of the last three weeks of the Easter Season highlight Jesus’ final prayer of blessing for his disciples. Though it is not always common to confer blessings upon others, blessings have power to connect us with Divine Presence. This week’s empowerment is dedicated to understanding the power of blessing.
May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
These simple Irish words remind us how powerful a blessing can be.
The Creator God looked at everything he made, and found it “very good.” This desire for goodness is the heart of what blessing is about. When we bless others, we ask for goodness from the source of all goodness — God.
We can give blessings to others so often! We normally wish others well on special occasions, or if they are leaving on a trip, or if they have moved to a new house, etc. How often do we say “God bless you” as words of comfort?
Perhaps it is time to add to our blessing vocabulary: “I hope this will be a day of joy for you. … I wish you gentle peace today. … May you feel today all the beauty that surrounds you. … May you experience God’s deep love for you in a real way. … May you feel God’s abiding presence now and always. … I bless you and wish all good things for you. … May you be filled with joy.”
During this time of pandemic, when many are depressed and lonely, our words of blessing can take on new meaning. We can bless others anytime — during a phone conversation, in an e-mail or note, to add to our goodbye, or even in a short text.
Words of blessing have a strong effect when they are accompanied by gesture.
In these days of social distancing when we refrain from touching others, we can find deeper ways to reverence other people and to bestow our blessings upon them. A kiss of your own fingers close to your lips and extending the hand you kissed is a tender sign of expressing love. Even though in our culture, we do not often bow to others, a simple silent bow with folded hands expresses humility and honor for another. Even a simple sign of the cross made in the air and directed toward another can extend a strong blessing. Open hands extended always expresses our best wishes.
Priests bless us all the time. We bless ourselves. But Jesus teaches us to bless each other. Blessings convey enormous life-sustaining power. A blessing is a bridge between heaven and earth. Blessings offer sacred moments of the divine touch.
Offering blessings is a totally selfless act. The words of blessing wrap the receiver in hope and in prayer. They offer tender optimism and invite the receiver into God’s warmth and gentleness
“The Lord said to Moses: Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: This is how you shall bless the Israelites. Say to them: The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!” (Numbers 6:22-26).
Like Aaron and his sons, we, too, hold that awesome power to bless. We just need to use it.
Blessings call upon and convey God’s deepest desire for our wholeness and well-being. They illuminate the link between the sacred and the ordinary. As channels of the Divine, they are a profound means of grace. They acquaint us with the mystery that lies at the heart of God.
God does not hide blessings for us in darkness. We are called to bear the light to others especially in unbearable times; to reveal God’s light and goodness.
Blessings abound in hope and draw us past our limits. They bond us with others as we breathe together. A blessing keeps nothing for itself and simply desires to have room enough to welcome what comes.
“Within the struggle, joy, pain, and delight that attend our life, there is an invisible circle of grace that enfolds and encompasses us in every moment. Blessings help us to perceive this circle of grace, to find our place of belonging within it, and to receive the strength the circle holds for us.”
— Jan Richardson, “The Painted Prayerbook”