One of the unique blessings — or curses — of living in the Deep South is the ubiquity of certain phrases and clichés.
For example, if you move to a new town in the South, it doesn’t take long before someone asks you where you are attending church. The assumption is that if you are living in the South, of course, you must be a Christian. And if you happen not to be, then clearly God has brought you south of the Mason-Dixon line for a Damascus Road experience.
Another one of these Southernisms is the phrase “Bless Your Heart.”
Like certain wonderfully flexible swear words, the Southernism “Bless Your Hearts” can be used as both an actual blessing and a very sly curse. It got me to thinking if Luke’s beatitudes — the blessings and the woes pronounced in Luke 6 — were to be translated into Deep South (Double)Speak, it might go something like this:
Bless your hearts, y’all who are poor for yours is the kingdom of God.
Bless your hearts, y’all who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
Bless your hearts, y’all who weep now, for you will laugh.
Bless your hearts, when folk hate you, exclude you, insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man.
Bless your hearts, because great is your reward in heaven because that is how their ancestors treated the prophets, bless their hearts.
But to the rich have already received their comforts, well, bless their hearts.
To the well-fed now, you will go hungry, well, bless their hearts.
To those laughing now, you will mourn and weep, bless their hearts.
To those that everyone speaks well of, bless their little hearts, because that’s how their ancestors treated false prophets.
Of course, if we’re looking at the blessings and the woes, we might do well to consider what it means exactly to bless someone. And whether they’d want to be truly blessed in the first place.
(Photo credit: Owlana/Flickr, Creative Commons Copyright)