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.