But I want to inscribe the blessing into this keyboard and into your screen as you read this (thank you, thank you for journeying with me). Here is my story.
Yesterday I sat in a pew mostly by myself, down at one end. A grandmother in a purple suit sat at the other end, accompanied by a peppery-haired grandfather, clutching a prayer book in his gnarled hands. My eyes welled up remembering how Granddad's hands were gnarled like that, years of walking sticks and petting dogs and rapping rulers on the desks of unruly British schoolboys written into his skin. And I looked through the bulletin and there it was - "The King of Love My Shepherd Is" (and I cried a little bit). And I listened closely to the sermon, but it wasn't until the Eucharist that I was suddenly, inexplicably struck with a desire to be blessed.
And the words flowed from the altar - "But chiefly we are bound to praise thee for the glorious resurrection of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the very Paschal Lamb, who was sacrificed for us, and hath taken away the sin of the world; who by his death hath destroyed death, and by his rising to life again hath won for us everlasting life."
And I wanted blessing. I wanted to feel the warm heavy hand of the priest on my forehead and have the living water of prayer poured over me. I wanted to close my eyes in the presence of the living God and hear the provisions pleaded on my behalf.
I walked up to the table, flung myself to my knees in a haphazard way and held out my hands, and the priest gave me the living Bread but swept by. I sighed ever-so-slightly to myself and walked back to my pew.
After the concluding hymn, I was talking to my headmaster from high school and suddenly Father Ross appears at my right elbow. "Excuse me," he says to Peter. And then he looks at me and he places his sturdy warm hand right on my forehead and his voice booms loud over the empty place of praise:
May the Lord bless you and keep you, and make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May He look upon you with kindness and give you peace. May the Almighty God bless you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Father Ross looks at me, smiles, and says to Peter, "Hilary likes blessings." A few more minutes to chat, and then he departs. And I gape after him, knowing that somehow, even my dejected sigh was heard by the One who is our peace.
And He blessed me right in the back of the sanctuary, because He sent Father Ross to speak the heavy good words over me. And I walk away treasuring this moment, blessing pressed on my forehead and into my heart.
May He bless you today when you do not think He can hear you.
|(photo: Ryan Groff)|