And Mary sang:
My innermost being magnifies the Most High,
my spirit rejoices in the One who heals,
who has lovingly looked upon the lowliest of servants.
From now on, all generations will call me blessed … Luke 1:46-48
What might it mean to be blessed and to be a blessing?
Years ago, while overseeing intake
at a women’s shelter on a frigid Chicago night,
I broke the chilling news that there was no more room.
Painfully, I instructed
the waiting line
to seek warmth elsewhere.
When offering direction to a bundled woman,
she extended an icy hand,
exuded a warm smile and thanked me.
With unexpected calm,
she addressed my distress
by declaring: ‘It’s alright, not to worry, I am blessed!’
Bemused and disturbed,
I watched her shamble off,
down the windswept city street.
With nowhere to lay her head, how can she be blessed?
While daily, I am undone by mundane frustrations,
she, with just cause for indignation, chose to bless.
The Beatitudes are a set of descriptions of a free life … When you can weep, when you can identify with the little ones, when you can make peace, when you can be persecuted and still be joyful; then you’re doing it right. Richard Rohr
Among the oft-quoted, least heeded of Jesus’ teachings,
the Beatitudes describe poor, grieving, gentle, forgiving, clear-hearted,
justice-minded, peaceable, persecuted folk as the blessed ones.
Such wisdom upends our understanding
of what it usually means to be graced
blessed, lucky, fortunate, charmed, happy.
Driving home his disconcerting doctrine,
Jesus added the mandate to bless all who curse us
and love any who would call us ‘enemy’.
Can we place ourselves among that tribe of poor,
mourning, meek, merciful, peace and justice-hungry people?
If not, we may be looking for another brand of benediction.
The blessed are not the sure, sinless, successful, or well-liked;
but the little ones who live and love out of a foundational sense
of complete interdependence we call grace.
Only one response can maintain us: gratefulness for witnessing the wonder. For the gift of our unearned right to serve, to adore, and to fulfill. It is gratefulness which makes the soul great.
Just to be is blessing. Just to live is holy. Rabbi Abraham Heschel
Blessing expresses both our motivation and life-orientation.
When we bless, we are not making holy.
We are simply declaring what is already, always sacred.
There is much in life we cannot alter;
brutality and hatreds that tear us apart, and pains we cannot take away.
Still, we can choose to bless, come what may!
This blessing power is a love-force, available to all,
and capable of transforming how we perceive
receive and relate to whatever comes our way.
Blessed child of earth and sky,
your life is precious, holy, always sacred,
and so is every other.
Only those who know their blessedness
can be a blessing to others.
So, blessed child of the Holy One, may you live up to your name,
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Now available: A New Book by Joe Grant