Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Until you bless me
Under my pillow. Inside the blue teapot. On the porch windows. Above the doorway. Between the couch cushions. Within the folds of a bathroom towel.
These are just a few of the places I found benedictions today. In a sense, these serendipities are of my own devising. On Sunday, I invited friends, baked bread, set the table, and then demanded a blessing. Go into each room, I said, and pen a prayer. Inscribe my walls and tuck your blessings into the smallest corners of my house. Speak peace over this place.
In a sense, these blessings were superfluous. The friends who came--students, colleagues, children, mentors--have already blessed this house with their presence. They have stood in the yard, offered compost for the garden. They have brought their children to gallop across the wood floors. They have come to cradle my new puppy. They have sat at the table and planned trips across the seas. They have been here with me.
Even so, I begged them for their prayers. Gently enough, of course, but still cringing a little. Is it selfish to demand a blessing? Audacious to expect them to write words over my house, when I have yet to do as much for them? Superstitious to want their handwriting to cover the house from floor to ceiling, yard to Spare Oom?
Yes. Yea, verily. Even so, I asked.
And they gave. They gave me their prayers with all the generosity and abandon of the saints. They prayed that friends would be familiar with all the doors, that the table would be full, that no harm would come to the house or its inhabitants, that even the lean days would call me back to the heart of Christ. Some wrote formal poems--staggering prayers for comfort, laughter, mystery.
As they did this thing for me, it seemed that they were kin to the one with whom Jacob wrestled: "I will not let you go unless you bless me." But of course, they are kind and image of that one who blesses and wounds, and I felt a strange reverence for each of them: children of God, Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve, glorious and fallen, strong in the harrowing love of Christ.
When they left, I felt the weight of what I had done. I had called upon the Lord, demanding a blessing, and he had delivered me through the prayers of his people. The weight and rhythm of their love settled on me, and I slept.
When I woke, I let myself read one or two of the blessings I could see, but most I have left, intending to savor them slowly. Every day since, I have woken to find some new mercy waiting.