>It is easy to believe we are ‘cursed’ – naturally, not supernaturally, I mean.
The media messages pick on our personal, social and institutional points of vulnerability. All these voices leave us with a deep sense of unease.
If we feel cursed ourselves the likelihood is that we will curse others.
However, if we know we are blessed the likelihood is that we will bless others. I know how much I curse others, and I know how much I bless others – and can draw my own conclusion that I haven’t been doing enough listening to the voices that call me blessed. I know I am not alone in finding it hard to accept blessing and to treasure the blessings people give.
Blessing comes from the Latin word “benediction” meaning “speaking well”. Jesus has a warning for us when too many speak well of us (Luke 6:26) that means we might have become too powerful, boastful and corruptible – but all of us need to be affirmed.
Nouwen points out that this is the way to “a sense of well-being and true belonging” and was moved by the blessing given to a 13 year old at his bar-mitzvah by his parents: “Son, whatever will happen to you in your life, whether you will have success or not, become important or not, will be healthy or not, always remember how much your mother and I love you.”
For Nouwen, prayer is about listening to that voice of blessing – to hear with the “ear of faith” the persistent voice of love saying “You are my beloved child – on you my favour rests.”
The blessings are there for us to receive.
“the blessings of the poor who stop us on the road, the blessings of the blossoming trees and fresh flowers that tell us about new life, the blessings of music, painting sculpture, and architecture – all of that – but most of all the blessings that come to us through words of gratitude, encouragement, affection and love. These many blessings do not have to be invented. They are there, surrounding us on all sides. But we have to be present to them and receive them. They don’t force themselves on us. They are gentle reminders of that beautiful, strong, but hidden voice of the one who calls us by name and speaks good things about us.”