As a child, I well remember the playground callout, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” As any of us can attest from our own life experience, that saying is most certainly wishful thinking, for words do indeed have the power to hurt us. I would rush to say that words also have the power to build-up, heal and transform us, which brings me to the idea of BLESSING. When we hear the word “blessing,” our first thought is often of the words of gratitude spoken before a meal, but I would like to offer a deeper dive into the idea of blessing. Merriam-Webster defines blessing as “the act or words of one that blesses, a thing conducive to happiness or welfare; approval or encouragement.” Each of us has the power to choose words which bless (approve, encourage) the person hearing them, contributing to their happiness and welfare. John O’Donohue, Irish teacher and poet, captures this idea beautifully in the words below.
The Power of Blessing
(To Bless the Space Between Us - John O'Donohue)
It would be infinitely lonely to live in a world without blessing. The word blessing evokes a sense of warmth and protection, suggesting that no life is alone or unreachable. It would be lovely if we could rediscover our power to bless one another, for when a blessing is invoked, it changes the atmosphere. In the light and reverence of blessing, a person or situation becomes illuminated in a completely new way. And if that were not enough, whenever you give a blessing, a blessing returns to enfold you.
God is able to bless you abundantly,
so that in all things at all times,
having all that you need,
you will abound in good works.
II Corinthians 9:8
Therefore, as God’s chosen people,
holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive one another,
as the Lord forgave you.
And over all these virtues put on love,
which binds them all together in perfect unity.