I love blessings: prayers asking for God’s favor and protection.
From the ones we find in Scripture, to the long tradition of blessings that have been passed on from generation to generation through rich heritage, I’ve been greatly impacted by having others pray them over me. I also enjoy praying blessings over others, and there are some blessings that I kiddingly call “safe blessings,” and some that I call, “dangerous blessings” – not that they do harm, but they embrace what we would normally consider desolation for the purpose of the greatest consolation of experiencing the Love of Christ more deeply.
This is one of my favorites, that I categorize as a “dangerous blessing.” While I’m not sure of its origination, it is credited to the Franciscan tradition. It goes:
May God bless you with discomfort,
At easy answers, half-truths,
And superficial relationships
So that you may live
Deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression,
And exploitation of people,
So that you may work for
Justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears,
To shed for those who suffer pain,
Rejection, hunger and war,
So that you may reach out your hand
To comfort them and
To turn their pain to joy
And may God bless you
With enough foolishness
To believe that you can
Make a difference in the world,
So that you can do
What others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness
To all our children and the poor.
What about the difficult days? The tough situations. Maybe, some of these are your inner thoughts:
“Can you believe what they said?!?”
“They were so rude!”
“They don’t want to follow directions, and now their actions are causing more work for us!”
God is there in those moments too, and I believe it’s in those moments that He wants to work His love and grace. The tough part is letting go. Letting go of our need to be right, our need to be in control, or of frustration, anger, or fear.
The following exercise is one way that I link even the most difficult situations to God: difficult volunteer situations, hard days when you have little to give, etc. It is similar to the Sacrament of the Now, but a bit different (intentionally asking for the graces of empathy, compassion, and love). It has been helpful for me, maybe it will be helpful to you too:
- Stop: Whether I am sweeping, mopping, or escaping from the crowds for just a moment, I withdraw for a few minutes. For you, it may be just resting your eyes, taking a moment to walk outside, etc.
- Breathe: I take a few deliberate breaths. Breathe in for 10 seconds and then out of 10 seconds. I’ve found that doing that helps to ‘reset’ from frustration to composure in the more upsetting situations.
- Prayer of Surrender: Simply surrendering to the Lord is key in the sacramentalizing of the moment. Recognizing that “He is here,” and respond to that realization by saying, “I give every iota to Him as best I can.” This prayer is a prayer of authenticity. It is: “I need You” and “I can’t do it without You,” as well as “I surrender everything I have to You.”
- Prayer of Compassion: Say a quick prayer of compassion. Empathy is imagining yourself in someone else’s situation, and compassion is the intentionality of having that experience manifest in action, to somehow alleviate the suffering. Reconnecting with those that I’m serving, whether it is a volunteer or the person who is being served, praying: “Lord, help me to be Your healing to the broken, and Your hope to the hopeless. Fill me with your love…”
Every part of our day is just waiting to be transformed when we come to pray. – Dave Nixon
The 2 Minute Praxis is just that: a way to put soul care into practice when you don’t have a lot of time. It’s something you can do anywhere, at just about any time.
Something that has been beneficial for me, is what I call the Sacrament of Now. It is an exercise in which I have experienced what Jean-Pierre de Caussade called the Sacrament of the Present Moment: recognizing how God shows up and speaks to us through every moment of the day. The word sacrament, I suppose, can seem like a stuffy religious word, but, in essence, (as minister and spiritual director Dave Nixon has put it):
[To sacramentalize] is to take ordinary things and link them to God.
The following exercise is one way that we can experience this. It has been helpful for me, maybe it will be helpful to you too:
- Breathe: Take a few deliberate breaths. Breathe in for 10 seconds and then out of 10 seconds.
- Prayer of Surrender: Simply surrendering to the Lord is key in the sacramentalizing of the moment. Recognizing that “He is here,” and respond to that realization by saying, “Lord, I give every iota to You as best I can.” This prayer is a prayer of authenticity. It is: “I need You” and “I can’t do it without You,” as well as “I surrender everything I have to You.”
- Make the ordinary things of life a part of your conversation with God: Something that we need to remember is that the Lord wants to reveal Himself to us (Jeremiah 29:13; Matthew 7:7). Even the most mundane things can point us to God. Praying something like, “Lord, help me to experience Your presence in this moment,” can be powerful if we engage our imagination and senses in the process. What do the regular every day things remind you about God? For example, in drinking a cup of water, we can engage our hearts in this simple act by praying, “Lord, thank you for this cup of water! It is refreshing to my body, just like You refresh my soul.”