Just recently I came across The Gentle Art of Blessing, by Pierre Pradervand and I’m very keen on reading it.
I began to think about the various kinds of blessings I’ve come across and what a blessing really means.
To bless means to wish, unconditionally, total, unrestricted good for others and events from the deepest wellspring in the innermost chamber of your heart: it means to hallow, to hold in reverence, to behold with utter awe that which is always a gift from the Creator. He who is hallowed by your blessing is set aside, consecrated, holy, whole. To bless is yet to invoke divine care upon, to think or speak gratefully for, to confer happiness upon – although we ourselves are never the bestower, but simply the joyful witnesses of Life’s abundance.Pierre Pradervand, The Gentle Art of Blessing
The Gentle Art Of Blessing
I recall my folded hands being held gently by my grandparents as I went to seek their blessings after the family prayers at night. That simple act symbolised love, belonging, the promise of prayer and acceptance. We were carrying on an old tradition practised by Goan Catholics.
My grandparents had their children and grandchildren scattered all over the world. Whenever we travelled to or from their home, a candle would be lit at the family grotto – the promise of prayer, blessings for the safety of the travellers. When we were not travelling we’d be recruited to keep the light burning until the travellers reached or called to say that they were safe!
My parents carried on this tradition in the various homes we lived in. My Mum lit candles and prayed a blessing for travel, for exams, for interviews, for surgeries….
People from other religious traditions in India, bend to touch the feet of their parents, elders, teachers, to seek their blessings. For a while I thought it was a servile gesture, because of how subjects were supposed to prostrate before their Sovereign. When a couple of my students did that, I was embarrassed. But then, I learned to put my arm on their shoulder, whisper a blessing and gently raise them up. I realized when people did that genuinely there was no shame in it for either person.
I see the value of praying a blessing on strangers. An ambulance passes by and I offer a quiet blessing for the patient and her family. A drunk is lying at the side of the road and I am moved to quietly pray a blessing for healing.
Another practice invites us to bless strangers quietly, secretly. Offer it to people you notice on the street, in the market, on the bus. “May you be happy. May you be at peace.” Feel the blessing move through your body as you offer it. Notice how you both receive some benefit from the blessing. Gently, almost without effort, each and every blessing becomes a Sabbath.— Wayne Muller in Sabbath
When Jesus asked us to ‘bless those who curse you’ (Luke 6:28) – it seems like a little too much to do! But I think, like forgiveness, offering a gentle blessing in your heart towards someone who is cursing or tormenting you, is what your soul needs to start healing.
It would be a pleasure to read your thoughts about blessings and maybe learn about something peculiar to your culture.