Who can bless? Everyone?

John ODonohueArticles, English 4 Comments

To bless the space between us

When I was a young priest I had occasion to visit a contemplative community of sisters.  An old sister opened the door.  Knowing that I was a new priest, she asked for my first blessing.  I stood over this contemplative and drew on every resource I knew to invoke the most intimate blessing.  As I was completing the blessing, it struck me how ironical this situation was:  here was a contemplative who had spent over sixty years of her life navigating the searing silence and darkness of God, yet she was asking a twenty-five-year-old for his blessing.  When she stood up I decided to kneel down and ask her for her blessing.  She seemed utterly taken aback;  she mumbled something and practically ran out of the room.  She must never have had such a request for her blessing before.  This was a woman who practised a totally contemplative life, and yet the system made her feel that she could not bless, and, conversely, it made me think I could.  This experience led me to question who had the authority and power to bless.

Who has the power to bless?  This question is not to be answered simply by the description of one’s institutional status or membership. But perhaps there are deeper questions hidden here:  What do you bless with?  Or where do you bless from?  When you bless another, you first gather yourself;  you reach below your surface mind and personality, down to the deeper source within you – namely, the soul. Blessing is from soul to soul.  And the key to who you are is your soul.

Excerpt from John O’Donohue’s To bless the Space between Us
(p. 205)

Comments 4

  1. Avatar of Rebecca Holton

    Obvious connections with Reiju 🙂

    I can understand the nun not feeling able to bless. It seems to be a recognition that we don’t bless using our self or our I. She seems to have had this insight about herself.

    We don’t bless with ourself. We bless with everything. So the Rei-ju is a space of no I, no “we”. There is just “Is”.

    There is an action in giving Rei-ju but it has no connection with the ritual or movements and it can’t be seen with the physical eye.

    Random thoughts – very difficult to express.

  2. Avatar of Kris Azzarello

    Dear Frans,
    Thanks so much for sharing this with everyone – it is a wonderful reminder of what blessing is (so deep, so mysterious; yet so simple and so clear) and that we may have different ways of espressing blessing, but it is truly all the same.

  3. Avatar of Frans Stiene

    Hi Rebecca,
    Yes we don’t bless with the ego or the “I”, we have to bless with everything, at the most deepest state we bless with the whole universe.
    The reiju is not really the physical action, the real reiju takes place in our mind.
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

    So true as well, when we really bless with the whole universe then there are different ways of expressing this blessing but they are all the same.
    Thank you for your wisdom too.

  4. Avatar of Kelly McDermott-Burns

    John O’Donohue was such a wonderful spiritual teacher.  He still is through his writing.  Thanks for posting this.  I feel like the Reiju takes place in my heart.  When I offer or receive Reiju I feel my heart open and love pour out.  Ahhhhh!!

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