Quote of the Day

Photo Thanks to Ian Schneider

Photo Thanks to Ian Schneider

I’m posting quotes as we go through the fuzzy zone of being new parents again in these next days. This quote comes from Henri Nouwen (Life of the Beloved, 67):

It is remarkable how easy it is to bless others, to speak good things to and about them, to call forth their beauty and truth, when you yourself are in touch with your own blessedness. The blessed one always blesses. And people want to be blessed! This is so apparent wherever you go. No one is brought to life through curses, gossip, accusations or blaming. There is so much of that taking place around us all the time. And it calls forth only darkness, destruction and death. As the “blessed ones,” we can walk through this world and offer blessings. It doesn’t require much effort.

 

 

The Blessed Child

Thanks to London Scout

Thanks to London Scout

I was listening to Rev. Emily Rosencrans the other week as she spoke to the chaplaincy staff about blessing. She talked about family systems in particular and how blessings are passed on to members of families.

It was a remarkable session, partly because I get a lot out of (family) systems theory and partly because of the ways Chaplain Rosencrans handled us. Her manner was gentle, precise, and perceptive. Plus, it’s fun to watch chaplains teach other chaplains because, as some theorists suggest, how we are with one another is how we are with our patients.

Nonetheless, we learned that usually mothers bless their sons and fathers bless their daughters. We talked ins and outs that I’ll keep from the blog but which really will impact, is impacting my pastoral and clinical skill since the session. We were learning about the work of Myron Madden who I’ve gotta put on my ever-expanding reading list.

Blessings are spiritual things and they come in the form of words, gifts, and permissions given. Such a clear capturing of a well-used word–blessing–or a worked over phrase–God bless you.

One of the most important things she told us was that we can get what we need and that we can encourage others to get what they need. Even if you weren’t the blessed child; even if your role was the rebel and troublemaker or the responsible caretaker; you can get what you need.

The other critical point was about how we can bless each other without regard for–or because of–who the so called blessed child was. Everybody can be a blessed child, and we have a role as spiritual caregivers in reminding people of that. In other words, we can bless and facilitate the blessings of others.

I thought about this quote that I used in a chapel meditation a few months back from Nouwen’s Life of the Beloved:

It is remarkable how easy it is to bless others, to speak good things to and about them, to call forth their beauty and truth, when you yourself are in touch with your own blessedness. The blessed one always blesses. And people want to be blessed! This is so apparent wherever you go. No one is brought to life through curses, gossip, accusations or blaming. There is so much of that taking place around us all the time. And it calls forth only darkness, destruction and death. As the “blessed ones,” we can walk through this world and offer blessings. It doesn’t require much effort.

So what do you need? Who needs to bless you? Go to them. Get it. Get what you need.

And don’t forget that you can bless others. Look for the moment. Take the opportunity to bless.

Advent Post #16

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her! (Luke 1:45)

It takes guts to believe in God. It takes more guts to believe that God, who exists, makes promises, and then, even more courage to believe that God makes promises to you.

After all that, to think that God would make and fulfill them! Eventually your beliefs are tested. Eventually what you’ve held close to your heart about God’s words and God’s ways are tested.

Sometimes when life tests our beliefs, those beliefs fall apart. They are too weak for real life. We find that they lack truth, that they cannot stand under the test of reality. We conclude, in a manner of speaking, that we were disillusioned to have believed what we did, that we were off, or that God, simply, was not trustworthy.

When we say that we were disillusioned to have believed, we check ourselves and attempt to modify our beliefs, try to speculate faithfully by studying in order to come up with something else.

If we say after that test that we were at fault, we try to change ourselves to fit what has to be the real God reality. I was wrong, not God, so in order to keep an intact faith, I change.

In the third option, where we conclude that God was untrustworthy, we decide and, sometimes painfully, to walk away from God. We tell ourselves and others that the God we thought was ‘in charge’ was a portion of our imaginations and that there really can’t be a God.

In all three instances, we relate to God because of some thing, some test, some examination of our deeply held beliefs. We aren’t always in touch with our beliefs. Usually we learn what we believe when those beliefs are challenged or up-heaved or undone.

Whatever category or line of thinking you may be in relation to God (and I don’t put you in these as much as I offer them as possible categories for this post), I wonder if you can consider that you are, right in that category, blessed. Whether you love or hate God. Whether you even believe in God. Whether you sympathize with people you see as religious because you pity us.

Can you stretch into the word blessed? Henry Nouwen talks about the meaning of “blessed” in his book Life of the Beloved, and he says that it’s essentially about good speech. To say that we are blessed is to say that somebody says good things about us. Can you hear that, that someone speaks well of you? I’d suggest that the person saying good things about you and me is God.

We are blessed and some of us because we believed. We did believe, even if we’ve diminished some of those beliefs. We did believe, even if we walked away. Indeed, one of the most remarkable claims about our blessedness is that we are blessed. Without regard for right beliefs and even right acts. Sure, this verse seems to run counter since Mary is heralded for believing in the promise. But the verse doesn’t spread across the entirety of her life.

It doesn’t spread into those nights of doubt when she thought Jesus was just an ordinary kid or those mornings when she was pissed because he said something about having a new mother and a new family, kicking her to the curb. This particular verse is about her pregnancy and her willingness to bear a son. The blessing, though, is a comment about what God always thought of her and what God would, in the future, think of her. Her and you. Her and me.