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  • Writer's pictureJoe Cherry

Celebrating Blessings

It used to really bother me when someone would say to me “I’ll pray for you,” of “Have a Blessed Day,” or some other well-meaning but clearly religious line of departure. It used to bug me because I wasn’t sure I wanted what every prayer the speaker had to offer on my behalf, nor was I all that jazzed about having to have my day constricted by the speaker’s idea of what it meant to be blessed.

I thought of this as the speaker trying to lay their theology over me like a blanket that I just did not want. As if their concern, and their expression of it somehow obligated me to accept their kindness in the format and language in which it was offered.

At some point, I realized that their blessing was really more about a kindness than recruitment. They weren’t necessarily trying to get me to believe the way that they did. I started listening to the intent rather than the language.

And that freed me up to really begin embracing blessings.

I began to understand that a blessing does not necessarily have to be rooted in an idea of the kind of intercessory G-d of the Abrahamic tradition. A blessing could be, and has become for me, a moment of awareness. A moment, taken out of ordinary time, to be reminded of the beauty in the world around me.

Your morning walk can offer you any number of blessings, as can sitting in a favorite chair. If petting an animal is your thing, there blessings abound for both you and the animal.

If you have been like me and struggled with some religious language, I encourage you to change your relationship with some of those words. We can expand our understanding of words like blessing, and prayer, and no longer hold in places of pain or discomfort for us.

The path to more spiritual maturity, more freedom, lies in taking these words that trigger you and working with them, so that you are no longer their prisoner.

For so long we have reacted to words and concepts instead of thoughtfully responding to them. This month, spend a little time with religious words that constrict you. Look them up in the dictionary, on line at your favorite etymology site. Really roll around in the dirt with these words. In doing so, you may well be able to freer than you’ve ever been.

Your minister,

Rev. Joe

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Rev. Joe Cherry

Rev. Joe is a biracial, gay, Unitarian Universalist minister, and history nerd. He lives in North Easton, Massachusetts, with his husband, Rev. Denis Paul, and their dog, Toulouse.

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