Blessing has a long history of meanings and roots. The Old English blēdsian based on blōd ‘blood’ (originally to ‘mark or consecrate with blood’) was used to translate the Latin benedicere ‘to praise or worship.’ The meaning shifted in late Old English toward ‘pronounce or make happy, prosperous, or fortunate.’ In the Semitic language of Aramaic, the phrase translated as ‘Blessed’ in the Beatitudes was actually tubwayhun which refers to being ripe, mature; having reached a stage of the fullness of the person I am meant to be.
So what, then, does it mean to offer a blessing, to be a blessing? To bless something or someone is to invoke its wholeness, to help remind the person or thing you are blessing of its essence, its sacredness, its beauty, and to help remind yourself of that, too. Blessing does not fix anything. It is not a cure… It does not instill health or well-being or strength. Instead, it reminds us that those things are already there, within us.
~Rev. Elea Kemler
People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.
~ Joseph Campbell
To bless is to put a bit of yourself into something.
~Macrina Wiederkehr and Joyce Rupp
To give someone a blessing is the most significant affirmation we can offer. It is more than a word of praise or appreciation; it is more than pointing out someone’s talents or good deeds; it is more than putting someone in the light. To give a blessing is to affirm, to say “yes” to a person’s Belovedness.
~Henri J. M. Nouwen
Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.
I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights…. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
The one who offers a blessing is like a coach whispering to an athlete before a competition, “You can do it!” More than encouragement, positive spin, or sincere wish, the words of blessing literally bring forth and make real an otherwise unrealizable force. In this way, blessing is not supplication but symbiosis. God needs us to summon blessings, just as we could not live without them.
The music is not in the notes, but the silence in between.
~ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Where does it come from, this strange unquenchable human urge for ‘more’ that is both our blessing and our curse? It has caused us to lift our eyes to the heavens and thread together pieces of the universe until we can glimpse a shadow of the divine creation. Yet to gain this knowledge, we have sometimes lost the mystery of a cloud, the beauty of a garden, the joy of a single step. We must learn to value the small as well as the great… Do we really need much more than this? To honor the dawn. To visit a garden. To talk to a friend. To contemplate a cloud. To cherish a meal. To bow our heads before the mystery of the day. Are these not enough?
I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.
(Curated and adapted for KUF from the 2018 Soul Matters materials for the theme ‘BLESSING’ by Rev. Beckett Coppola.)