Today, I’m taking a brief break from Mark to explore a theme raised by one of my readers, based on the question, “what does it mean to bless?” While there is no one meaning of “blessing,” I will share a twenty-first century vision, embracing both pluralism and post-modernism, welcoming to Christians, persons from other faiths, and seekers.
I believe that to bless is to seek wholeness for another. It is to internally and implicitly as well as, at times, externally invite the healing and prospering energy of the universe – God’s energy, I believe – to surround, permeate, and transform the life of another. Blessing is the way of the universe, seen from a spiritual perspective. Abraham and Sarah are blessed to be a blessing. The energy of God that uniquely surrounds and prospers them is meant to be shared: they are to be channels of blessing – channels of healing and wholeness to the world.
I can best share my understanding of blessing by describing what I personally do as part of a personal pathway of blessing. You may find other ways, and that is good, because blessing arises out of our unique gifts, experiences, and context. When I walk each day, I take time along with my morning walking prayer to bless households along the way – typically I bless those I know, but anyone can be given a blessing. My own practice is to lift up my hand and then wave it toward their house symbolically and, possibly, literally sending blessed energy to their home. When I shop, I choose while I’m waiting in line to bless the checker. When the phone rings, I say a word of blessing or open to blessing as I reach for the phone. When I experience a judgmental thought – and if you begin a path of blessing, you discover how judgmental you are! – I follow my judgment with a blessing.
For me, blessing is opening to divine grace and energy, letting it flow through me in joining with another’s well-being. It is an affirmation that the whole energy of the universe is flowing in and through me, sustaining, inspiring, creating, and energizing me, to give life and love to others. Blessing affirms the ecology of life in which we are all part of one dynamic interdependent body.
Blessing can move from ritual to habit to way of life, a pathway of blessing that shapes every day. We can experience the whole world as a place of blessing in which we are constantly giving and receiving God’s love, energy, and healing.
For your affirmations today, take the time to do the following – consciously, bless everyone you meet, perhaps, by using phrases such as:
I bless everyone I meet.
My life is a blessing in which I constantly bless others.
I share God’s blessing in every encounter.
Bruce Epperly is a theologian, spiritual guide, healing companion, retreat leader and lecturer, and author of nineteen books, including Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living; God’s Touch: Faith, Wholeness, and the Healing Miracles of Jesus; and Tending to the Holy: The Practice of the Presence of God in Ministry. He has taught at Georgetown University, Wesley Theological Seminary, Claremont School of Theology, and Lancaster Theological Seminary. He is currently theologian in residence at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His most recent book Process Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed will be released in May 2011. He can be reached for lectures, seminars, and retreats at firstname.lastname@example.org