I took the dog out for a walk last Sunday evening, the air was warm and still, the sky blue and the sun shining. The children had enjoyed a chilled day with ice cream, their gran visiting, a paddling pool and a bubble machine(what more could you want)?! All was good in my world, I smiled as I walked, I felt blessed!
It’s not always like that…on a number of occasions during the last few weeks I’ve left to walk the dog in the evening with my sunglasses on, not to shade from the sun but to hide my puffy eyes from the tears of anger, frustration or sadness which were a reflection of how that particular day was going! I didn’t feel blessed I felt tearful and stressed!
So am I blessed even when I don’t feel it?
The reality is that as a family we have an abundance of food, numerous clothes to choose from and toys to play with. We have a house plenty big enough for nine of us…we have running water, a flushing loo, a variety of gadgets and machines that do the work for us! Those facts are all true regardless of how I feel. So I’m blessed, right?!
Which raises the question: what about the people who don’t have those things? Are they not blessed? Are they in some way cursed? Does the benevolent universe hold back good things from them? Does the Divine; God; the Source of Life choose not to bestow good things on some people? Or if you prefer to use the word ‘lucky’ rather than ‘blessed’ are some people just unlucky?
So here’s the thing, I’m not sure that attributing material wealth or physical health to the concept of blessing actually works. To suggest that we thank God for our children, our health or our bank balance is suggesting that God has given them to us which in turn suggests that those who don’t have health, money or children are bereft of Gods blessing.
So there are a couple of thoughts:
Firstly comparison is unhelpful, what is seen by some as a blessing may be seen by others as a curse and vice-versa! However that still doesn’t make sense of a world where some people have houses with rooms they don’t use most of the day and others are living in a tent surrounded by sewage.
I guess one basic response is that we can all live with an attitude of thankfulness regardless of what we do or don’t have because life itself is a gift…and it also follows that we get to choose how we interpret the situations we are faced with. There’s a well known phrase “count your blessings”…sometimes it’s helpful to literally do that and at other times maybe it’s about looking deeper into the circumstances to find the blessing within. There is evidence to suggest that those in our affluent part of the world perhaps aren’t as capable of noticing the blessings as those with far less?!
However, what if blessing is not about material possessions, the amount of wealth or even the state of our physical health at all? What if instead blessing is connected to an awareness of our inner self, our true self?
This is where the bible offers wisdom. Jesus explains to his closest friends who the ‘blessed people’ are…it’s not as you’d think!
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5 – The Bible
Jesus didn’t say
“Blessed are the rich for they can enjoy shopping…”
“Blessed are those with a promotion for they can buy a bigger car…
“Blessed are those who have a dishwasher for they do not need to wash up…”
It seems we’re blessed when we know who we really are. When we take time to get our inner thoughts and attitudes in order. It’s out of being real and honest about who we are that we’re able to experience life at its fullest, maybe that’s what it really means to be blessed. The beauty of this is that blessing us open to anyone regardless of circumstances. From that place of inner acceptance and understanding we can look at all those good things life throws our way (because we’ve either worked for them or that’s just how it worked out) and smile. From that place we can enjoy and celebrate all that we have and use the good things in our lives to bring good to others. Also from that place of inner peace and knowing we can journey through the times we feel cursed, the times we feel like nothing ever goes our way and the times we feel scared or sad or frustrated or angry. In those times we can acknowledge life for how it really is, cry; shout; find safe ways of expressing those feelings and then take a breath; allow others in to journey with us and have courage to look for and take the opportunities to move forward.
So as we journey through this crazy life, with a benevolent universe at work around us, an ever expanding, growing, developing cosmos, a God who is recklessly extravagant…let’s look for those opportunities to be fully present, to appreciate all we are; to pray, contemplate, meditate and from there to find ways of being a blessing to others because I think in doing so we’ll find we’re blessed, whether we feel it or not!!