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Blessing Others

June 6, 2012

Last weekend, my husband and I went on a date.  It was the first date we had been on in awhile due to a hectic spring schedule.  It was the first date in an even longer while that hadn’t been spent going to an organized event or activity.  The first date where we didn’t have to be at a certain place by a certain time.  This date was full of possibility and opportunity for something creative.

We went to see the Avengers.

It was a joint choice.  I love superhero movies.  They’re pretty much the only action/adventure movies I can tolerate.  I loved the Avengers.  I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t watched either of the Iron Man movies because Stark/Iron Man was my favorite.  I was missing a lot of the history of Iron Man and could easily get the following wrong.  If I do, please forgive me.

Part of the premise of Iron Man is that he has a shard of something foreign (bullet? metal? shrapnel?  I don’t know) right outside his heart.  To prevent this foreign object from working the way to his heart and killing him, he permanently has a round disk that glows blue built into his skin (yes, I know more backstory would be helpful here).  Just by looking at him, you can see that he glows.  You know what powers him and keeps him alive.  You know what is inside him (a foreign something or other).

Now I am sure you are wondering if I have gone off the deep end at this point.  How do I get from Barbara Brown Taylor to Iron Man in one short post?

I realized yesterday as I was getting my haircut the direct spiritual implications that blue glowing circle holds for me.  I sat in my stool, covered in a smock, and watched my stylist cut my hair.  We had extinguished all the polite small talk I am capable of and I was content to sit quietly while she cut my hair.  It was comfortable, Brenda’s cut my hair enough times that it felt ok not to chat through the entire haircut.  As I watched her cut my hair in the mirror, I started thought of one of my favorite chapters from Altars in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor, Pronouncing Blessings.  I tried to remember some of the words she used, the ones that echoed ancient Jewish prayers.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has made the works of creation

However I couldn’t.  I made up my own blessing, cobbled together with what I could remember from above and a direct blessing on Brenda:  Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the Universe, creator of all there is.  Bless Brenda today.  Surround her with your love and peace.  I didn’t say this aloud, I didn’t tell her I was doing this.  I just did it, knowing that she didn’t need to hear me say the words to be blessed.  I looked back at her.  I noticed a slight smile on her face and I wondered what she was thinking of, her daughters maybe?  I noticed her as a person, not just my stylist.  I saw her as a beloved daughter of God, within whom God resides, whether or not she is practicing Christian.

It was as if she was Iron Man, with a blue glowing disc in the middle of her chest.  God within her was glowing that strongly.  I remembered another quote from Taylor’s Blessing Chapter:

…pronouncing a blessing puts you as close to God as you can get.  To learn to look with compassion on everything that is….this to land at God’s breast.

To pronounce a blessing on something is to see it from the divine perspective.  To pronounce a blessing is to participate in God’s own initiative.  To pronounce a blessing is to share God’s own audacity.

A few other times I have inwardly pronounced a blessing on someone I didn’t know.  The same effect was immediate.  The other person was made much greater, I was much less important.  We were connected to each other in our relationship as beloved children of God.

Pronouncing blessings is the culmination of living a life of gratitude, of being in the moment.  It takes all the energy from working on myself and my relationship to God and invests in knowing that everyone is beloved.  To pronounce a blessing (and let me clarify, I am blessing no one.  I am solely acknowledging that God blesses everyone. God allows the rain to fall on all, flowers to bloom for everyone, and the sun to rise morning after morning on both the evil and good) is see others as God made them in the moment I am being present too.  A spiritual journey is not about solitude and your private travel on your personal jet to God.  A spiritual journey is a communal process, like it or not, which can only be undertaken if all the pilgrims are recognized as well.

I don’t pronounce blessings often enough.  I’m working on it.  I’m working on including my family on the blessing thing as well.  Those I can bless out aloud comfortably.  Those I need to bless often so my children grow up knowing that nothing can separate them from the love God and they are beloved, blessed children of God.

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