Yesterday morning my eighty-four year old mother quoted a poem to me. My mother, like anyone else in their eighties has survived many of life's toughest challenges and she has come through with her sense of humour and love of life and God intact. She has lived through the Great Depression and Second World War. She has survived raising four teenagers during the turbulent sixties. She survived the death of her husband and then rebuilt her life with another wonderful man, my step-dad. She has survived breast cancer and currently lives with lymphoma in remission. My mother is a survivor and a wise old woman - the Matriarch of our family.
So she read me this poem over breakfast yesterday morning and I found myself initially thinking how schmaltzy it was - sort of an extended Hallmark card. I smiled indulgently trying not to be distracted by my opinion of the quality of the poetry.
Later that morning I watched as my mother also tried to share this same blessing with her grandson, my oldest child. And I squirmed as he pulled back in irritation, interpreting her efforts as "pushing her religion."
I see now that he and I were both rejecting a Blessing.
I thought about how often I reject offerings of love and Blessing that are sent my way because my inner editor distracts me regarding the quality of the language being used, or the music being played or the world-view being expressed. This latter one especially. I now realize that when anyone reaches out with a blessing it is only natural - in fact necessary - that they do so from their own worldview - not mine. So why should I be offended and reject a blessing because of that?
Why should I not accept a greeting of, "Have a good day!" from an atheist because I wonder how an atheist judges good or bad without an over-arching moral code emanating from a moral creator? Why should I deny a blessing of "Good luck!" from a fellow being just because I wonder if luck exists. I'm missing the point. Why should anyone deny a blessing of "Go with God," just because they disagree that God exists or know her by a different name? Why should I deny a blessing of "Salem" from Muslim or Jew simply because my view of God differs? It makes no sense.
Interestingly, the one member of my family who beamed at my mother's poem of blessing and received it whole-heartedly with a big smile, hug and "thank you!" was my dear wife. This woman is known as a blessing to all who keep her company. She laughs easily and loves deeply. She turns everything she does into a joyful adventure throwing herself into it with all her might. Consequently, she is successful, wise and charming. Despite serious setbacks during her life she remains constantly optimistic, positive and encouraging. If ever there was a "proverbs 31 woman," she is it.
I wondered at the connection between her openness to my mother's blessing and my wife's success in life. Surely there is a connection. Surely she is onto something that I have missed. Surely life goes better, no matter what our circumstances, when we are open to the blessings being offered us on all sides. From the physical helps of friends and neighbours, to the friendly greetings of passers-by, to the expressed love and support from our closest family members. Blessings abound. If we will only recognize and accept them.
May I learn this lesson well - to Embrace the Blessings!
By the way, here's the poem my mother recited - I offer it to you as a blessing:
you are here for a reason.
you are part of an intricate plan.
you're a precious and unique design,
called God's special woman or man.
you look like you look for a reason.
our God made no mistake.
he knit you together within the womb,
you're just what he wanted to make.
the parents you had were the ones he chose,
and no matter how you feel,
they were custom designed with Gods plan in mind,
and they bear the master's seal.
no, that trauma you faced was not easy,
and God wept that it hurt you so;
but it was allowed to shape your heart,
so that into his likeness you'd grow.
you are who you are for a reason,
you've been formed by the master's rod.
you are who you are, beloved,
because there is a God.