In his book, Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen tells the story of Janet, “one of my friends who is quite handicapped but a wonderful, wonderful lady.”
She said to me, “Henri, can you bless me?”
I remember walking up to her and giving her a little cross on her forehead.
She said, “Henri, it doesn’t work. No, that is not what I mean.”
I was embarrassed and said, “I gave you a blessing.”
She said, “No, I want to be blessed.”
I kept thinking, “What does she mean?”
We had a little service and all these people were sitting there. After the service I said, “Janet wants a blessing.” I had an alb on, and a long robe with long sleeves.
Janet walked up to me and said, “I want to be blessed.” She put her head against my chest and I spontaneously put my arms around her, held her, and looked right into her eyes and said, “Blessed are you, Janet. I want you to know that you are God’s beloved daughter. You are precious in God’s eyes. Your beautiful smile, your kindness to the people in your house, and all the good things you do show us what a beautiful human being you are. I know you feel a little low these days and that there is some sadness in your heart, but I want you to remember who you are: A very special person, deeply loved by God and all the people who are here with you.”
She looked at me and said, “Yes, yes, yes, I know.” I suddenly saw all sorts of energy coming back to her. She seemed to be relieved from the feeling of depression because suddenly she realized again that she was blessed.
And as soon as Janet left Henri’s arms, another person raised their hand and said, “I want a blessing too!”
And then another, and another.
Each got a hug and an affirmation, that they are loved just as they are.
And Henri came away changed as well. “I recognized the importance of blessing,” he said.
I’m smiling real big. About the story. About the hug. About the blessing. Knowing that I too, would have raised my hand, and said, “I want that kind of blessing too.”
We tend to think of a blessing as some rote movement with ornamental words.
But a real blessing is a “hug” (physical or emotional) reminding another person to recognize their worth and their value, of what makes them special and loved.
And yes, I do know that we’ve heard nice-sounding words that don’t feel heartfelt. Even obligatory.
However, I do know when someone really means it. Their hug an extension of themselves, and their words from their heart.
Even in our brokenness they love who we are.
And here’s the deal: In our cacophonous and discombobulated world, blessings are indispensable and powerful.
Not to give advice or fix, but to be present.
The power of presence.
The power of touch.
This space is grace.
Because here, you are enough.
And no, this is not an assignment after a homily or sermon or lecture. This is an invitation, that we all (every single one of us) do need such blessings.
And here’s the good news: blessings spill to those around us. Because this kind of blessing is alive and well inside of everyone one of us, to give and to share. Buried maybe. But still alive.
This blessing is not separate from our broken and anxious lives. No. It is in the very midst. The messy. The chaotic unknown. Even so, we pass this blessing on to one another, even from our splintered and imperfect selves.
I do know that some of us wonder if there’s anyone around that can give us that kind of blessing (our loved ones gone). That is real. And I don’t have all the answers. Or great advice. But I needed a hug this week and someone gave me one. And now maybe I can give a hug too, even if it is virtual.
And in that hug, know this… there is a blessing.
It makes sense to me that the word salvation, from the Latin “salve,” means a balm or ointment to heal.
Yes, it is easy to miss one another, to miss opportunities to love and to touch and to bless. But here’s the part that befuddles me. So often when we do touch (or are blessed)—and it does happen very often—we don’t see it. Ahhh, but when we do see it (even when we are broken)… it is the very kiss of God.
A happy Fourth Celebration to all. Please be safe. I’m thinking of the way I had to keep my dogs sane from the noise. Let’s just say that I like fireworks, only with the mute button on. Just saying’. And with fire restrictions in so many areas, please be cautious. And for those is very warm places, stay cool.
I do hope this SM is a blessing. Please pass a blessing on.
Quote for the week…
I think it is very important that when we are in touch with our blessedness, that we can then bless other people. Henri Nouwen
Today’s Photo Credit: “Terry, We weren’t exactly dancing, but enjoying the beautiful fields of Roxanne’s favorite flowers in Snook, Texas. Hotter than crazy here, but magnificent flower fields.” Bill Taylor… Thank you Bill… Thank you to all, keep sending your photos… send to terryhershey.com
Yes, your gift makes a difference… Donation = Love…
Help make Sabbath Moment possible. I write SM because I want to live with a soft heart; to create a place for sanctuary, empathy, inclusion, compassion and kindness… a space where we are refueled to make a difference. SM remains free.
(NEW address by check: PO Box 65336, Port Ludlow, WA 98365)
Letters that do my heart good…
–Good Morning Terry, As always this morning’s Sabbath Moment was a great reflection! Thank you. The truth that our pain can be turned through forgiveness to help heal others. I want to share that our LGBT Families support group has used as an opening prayer “A Francsican Blessing” since its inception (January 2020). I saw it in one of your Sabbath Moments before the group started and thought it was perfect for what our group stood for. Of course, it is always mentioned where I found it. I was thrilled to see it again at the end of today’s Sabbath Moment! The parish’s Social Justice Committee has also used it occasionally as their prayer. Thank you for content in the Sabbath Moment that is relevant and meaningful in living a good life connected to others and to God. Have a blessed day! Stephanie
–Our minds must work in similar ways. As a seminary student, when walking into my Jeremiah class, I would always hum or sing Jeremiah was a Bullfrog. Doing some guest preaching this summer, just last Sunday, that’s just what I sang as I began my sermon. In this congregation in Jordan, Minnesota, just a half hour south of our home, the older members chimed right in by the second line. Thanks again for wonderful inspirational messages. This congregation knows when I speak of Terry Hershey. Flip
–Thank you Terry for your inspirational words everyday. I loved “I believe in Springtime”, it was beautiful. Thank you for sharing yourself and being so honest. Have a beautiful day. Lynne
POEMS AND PRAYERS
O God, the need for healing
in the world is great, and the
difficulties our nations
face are many.
We ask for Your help
and healing presence in all
Guide our thoughts, words,
and actions toward one
another so that each nation
might find peaceful, just and
Marianist Prayer for Healing in the World
The Lord God planted a garden
In the first white days of the world
And He set there an angel warden
In a garment of light unfurled.
So near to the peace of heaven
That the Hawk might rest with the Wren
For there in the cool of the evening
God walked with the first of men.
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth ~
One is nearer God’s heart in the garden
Then anywhere else on earth.
Dorothy Frances Gurney
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.