Friday, July 11, 2008

The Blessing - Offering and Receiving

As our friend Hugh spoke about the Blessings that Peterborough Community Chaplaincy has experienced and offered to himself and to many others – I listened closely.

He referred to a book that is entitled “To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings” by John O’Donohue. A quick search of the Internet gives you much about the impact of this book. Thanks Hugh for the starter idea.

As I read the reviews I saw the potential of what I have taken for granted too often. The potential to Bless is over powering… and the power to miss the significance of the Blessing and Blessing occasion is tragic.

Blessing? Isn’t that something a religious person does over food on a special holiday – on a TV Soap Opera? Isn’t that something a minister does in church when he performs a religious function…or closes the service?

Nope – to all those questions. Blessings happen all the time. Let me explain.

In one reviewer of O’Donohue’s book ,Kerry Walters, made this statement…
In our overly busy culture, he writes, we frequently race over the "crucial thresholds in our life" without pausing to take note of their significance. We no longer have "rituals to protect, encourage, and guide us as we cross over into the unknown" (p. xiv). A blessing is precisely one of those protecting, encouraging, and guiding rituals. It memorializes our transitions, connects us with a wider community (since none of us really ever travels alone), and strives to "present a minimal psychic portrait of the geography of change it names"

Blessings, then, are all-important. They serve to orient us in our life's journey, establish fellowship with fellow travelers, and remind us of what we too often forget: that we are pilgrims, not haphazard wanderers.

It is the phrase “crucial thresholds in our life” that stops me to think.

A very long time ago when I was about to leave home something special happened. I was so excited to get on the road and go. My dad was traveling with me from Regina to Toronto. It was the very first time for both of us. The year was 1966. We had piled our suitcases into my brand new 1966 Plymouth – a Belvedere II and we were ready to go.
I remember as we walked to the back yard and then out to where the car was parked, my mother came to see us off. She quickly handed me a present wrapped up. It was small and had solid feeling… it was a book. When I opened it, I saw that Mom and Dad had given me a small Bible with her handwriting in the front. “God Bless you Murray ~ Love Mom and Dad”.

She was giving up her first born child to a job move(and a future) that would take him places that none of the family had ever gone before. She had no idea where her “Murray” would go…but at this special moment she was offering him their blessing. The fact that she was sending her husband on this jaunt with her son – costing them a large amount of money that they really didn’t have was significant. I wouldn’t know how big that was until later – but it said to me how important that moment was for them ~ and me… for years to come.

A few weeks ago as I packed all my books I came across that small red Bible that they gave me. Holding it then fired up the memory of that moment 42 years ago… of a Blessing Given. How powerful is that? WOW!

Hugh’s words last evening, the Book’s reviewer and my own thoughts flooding back to so many millions of special moments over all these years… have pointed to the many times that Blessings have been a part of my life.

As a professional “Blessor” – a minister – I have learned the many kinds of blessings in my “work”… yet being professional at “blessing” people doesn’t mean that you take time to savour the "crucial thresholds in our life" - in fact it may point to the fact that so often I personally have been caught up in a furious pace to rush to the next official blessing site… missing the significance of the moments together.

Having left the official position of “professional blessor” – completing my pastoral/ministerial duties at Northview Church on June 22nd it has been strange. I do not have to BLESS professionally again.

Last Sunday it was different, Alida and mom were with me on Sunday morning – traditionally the day that I bless people professionally. We were not in church but rather beside the Trent River. It was warm and a perfect day for an 87 year old woman to sit with her kids and enjoy the day. It was wonderful for her son to be able to push all the professionalism away and just fish.

It was a blessing day… a blessing moment… a special for all of us. I wish that every Sunday could be that way and that special moment would remain. It was a Blessing – given in that “crucial threshold of life”… cherished and savoured for a mere moment.

I will think back to that Sunday when mom is gone. I will never be able to do that moment again… but I will re-live that moment again and again.

Soon, Mom will travel on her own to Alberta. The roles have changed. I will be letting my mother go on a big airplane all by herself…trusting her not to my Dad’s care but to that of an airline attendant. As she leaves us at the airport to attend another “crucial threshold of life”… I will bless her… and the space between us. Then she will do the same at the wedding of her grandson in Calgary.

Life will go on… filled with Blessing Moments and spaces to fill a life time.

What bothers me is the person that is missing the blessing by obstinate and/or careless, self serving episodes of their own moments. As they live out “their owness” they miss the best. Some day they will be very sorry.

In marriage I celebrate a Blessing of every single moment of it. We are blessed eating together, sleeping together, walking together, talking together, having intimacy together, sitting together and then every other together that is possible. For 41 years now(actually 46 for us with 5 years of dating added in) Alida and I have done it all together…every space has been a blessing to us.

I have to stop this… it has made the many millions of Blessings rush back again…

What about you? How are you doing? Are you stopping to savour and sense and receive and care for and offer… Or are you in too big a hurry to see what is going on with Blessings?

Thank you for sharing this space with me in time – God Bless you!

~ Murray Lincoln ~

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