Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

Blessing: In his potent essays in the book “To Bless the Space Between Us,” John O’Donohue says that a blessing is “a circle of light drawn around a person to protect, heal, and strengthen.” Unlike a prophecy that “foreshadows,” a blessing he says, “fore-brightens” the way. In other words a blessing lights our way forward, mapping a way through, and charting a path into the unknown.

In Hebrew the root b-r-k means both to kneel and to bless, implying something embodied. A blessing is not wordy and vacuous but humbling and powerful. To kneel is to bless and to bless is to kneel. Some days we fall to our knees in search of a blessing. Other days the blessing itself causes us to fall to our knees.

Unsurprisingly if we listen to our ancient stories with ears open, we will remember that a blessing is permanent. Once offered, cannot be revoked. Isaac is tricked into blessing Jacob instead of Esau, and it cannot be undone. Blessing is lasting, irrevocable, irreversible. When we open ourselves to blessing, we cannot remain unchanged.

Praying the Alphabet
O Beyond-in-our-midst,
You bind us together,
your boundless love buoying us;
Your blessing bestowed, unending.
Bring us, beloved, into your sheltering love,
For we arrive again baffled, barren, bewildered, broken,
bereaved, burdened, barely balanced.
Bind us up. Be for us a balm in Gilead.
Be for us a tender benediction,
a blessing unbroken. Amen.