We’ve said goodbye to Rilke for the time being.
Goodbye is a contraction of “God be with you,” so it is a form of blessing. As we leave a person, we express the wish that God should continue with them, even if we cannot be there ourselves. May God be with you.
For the next few weeks, we’ll be working with the concept of blessing as put forward, most of all, by David Spangler (who was a close friend of Brugh Joy's by the way, and a photo of him will be coming to this space soon as well).
We’ll begin by wondering what we already mean by blessing.
We say, for instance, “the blessed event,” meaning a birth.
We say, “of blessed memory,” referring to someone who has died. In the Jewish tradition, “May his/her memory be for a blessing.”
We say a blessing of various kinds before a meal and many ceremonial events.
We ask for a father’s or mother’s blessing, for instance at an engagement.
We say, “Bless you!” when someone sneezes.
Some have said, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”
We talk about counting our blessings, which has a way of suggesting that the good things in our lives are gifts. Someone blesses someone with something.
Blessings tend to happen through an imperative verb form. They are not simple statements, nor questions, nor exclamations, but invocations or commands. A blessing is a deed, held down by the words, but ultimately not in words.
Blessing is empowerment. When we feel blessed, or offer a blessing, some kind of wholeness, power, love, grace is transferred or enhanced.
A few more key aspects to blessing are captured in the first stanza of Keats’s “To Autumn”:
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
Here we see blessing as collaboration ("conspiring"): between Autumn, a being of time and the Earth, with the Sun, a being of the heavens and timelessness. Also, the blessing of the vine with fruit has to do with fulfillment, something comes into the full expression of its essence – into a fruiting that will gladden or nourish.
The first question for us to meditate and practice will be: who or what in us is capable of blessing another person or process or thing? Who are we that we can confer power and goodness?
So next Tuesday, we’ll be working with the “sovereignty” exercises and other practices of Spangler, such as his Standing exercise. We’ll consider ourselves as increasingly intentional, increasingly coherent beings, both vessels and creators of wholeness and grace.
All blessings to all,