Saturday, February 21, 2015

Blowin' in the Wind: Celtic Blessings

(Blowin’ in the Wind is a regular feature on my blog consisting of an assortment of nature writings – hymns, songs, excerpts, prayers, Bible readings, poems or other things – pieces I may not have written but that inspire me or have given me joy. I trust they will do the same for you.)

I have always loved blessings. I’ve loved receiving them, I’ve loved giving them, I’ve loved watching them being given. Over the years I’ve particularly enjoyed sharing benedictions at the end of a worship service, something I sorely missed during my years as a denominational administrator, but now a singular delight since being back in church-based pastoral ministry. It can be the highlight of a worship service for me.

During my classwork for my Spiritual Direction certification several years ago, I suppose it was natural for me to be drawn to study some of the classic blessings of Christian history, Celtic blessings. Frankly, it didn’t even feel like study to me; it felt like devotion. I couldn’t get enough. Celtic blessings from Ireland and Scotland, some of which go back 1500 years and more, have this lovely earthiness to them, often depicting nature in such an astounding way as to undo me. Frequently intimate, both with God and self, they commonly utilize themes such as journey, childlikeness, parenting or birthing, water, weather, celestial bodies and the like… Natural things.

Some of you will remember Noel Paul Stookey’s song (of Peter, Paul and Mary fame), Irish Blessing:

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall softly on your fields.
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Of course, there are those with tongue-in-cheek humor:

Lord, let those who love us, love us.
Lord, let those who not love us allow you to turn their heart.
And if you not turn their heart, may you turn their ankles
So we might know them by their limping.

But here’s the one I wanted to share today. A good friend pronounced this blessing over a group gathering I attended a short time ago, and I wouldn’t let her rest until she sent it my way. (Thanks, Jennifer!) I pass it along to you. Save it for a moment late in the day when you are settling down for the night, preparing for rest.

May the blessing of light be on you – light without and light within. 

May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire,
So that stranger and friend may come and warm himself at it. 

And may light shine out of the two eyes of you, 

Like a candle set in the window of a house, 

Bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm.

May the blessing of the rain be on you.
May it beat upon your Spirit and wash it fair and clean,

Leaving there a shining pool where the blue of Heaven shines, 
And sometimes a star. 

May the blessing of the earth be on you, 

Soft under your feet as you pass along the roads, 

Soft under you as you lie out on it, tired at the end of day.
And may it rest easy over you when, at last, you lie out under it. 

May it rest so lightly over you that your soul may be out from under it quickly,
Up and off and on its way to God.

And now may the Lord bless you, and bless you kindly. Amen.

                                                            ~~Celtic Blessing, source unknown

Be very blessed.

~~RGM, February ­­­­19, 2015

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