Haven’t been feeling particularly blessed last few days. It happens. Tempted to pray for God’s blessing as always when feeling disconnected, uneasy, overwhelmed. Seems we’re always asking for God’s blessing to change things we don’t like or to stave off things we don’t want. We bless hospitals and houses, babies and midterm exams–we bless our food before we eat it as if to transfer God’s holiness and goodness to something that doesn’t already have it. But Jesus and his followers never understood blessings this way. To ancient Jews, when God made the heavens and earth, he looked and saw that they were good…you can look it up in Genesis 1. Over and over, each and everything he saw was good–couldn’t be otherwise; it was part of him. To Jews, blessings don’t transfer holiness, they are the permission or authority to partake in the abundance, the goodness that is already present all around us. When a Hebrew father gave his eldest son his blessing, it meant he now had the authority to partake of his entire estate.
We bless our food before we eat it. Jews say their blessings after they eat. A superficial difference? Profound. To bless before in order to make something pure or holy as opposed to blessing after as thanks for participation in abundance is as different as night and day. A glass half empty or half full. Is the world a dark and evil place awaiting God’s bulldozers in the last days to come scrape it clean and start over? Or is it a place of light and life and abundance at which right now we are all being called to table? In trying to placate his eldest son, the father of the prodigal says, “You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” What part of everything don’t we understand? How can we ever get more than the everything, the allness, we already have? All good, all God…all the blessing that’s ever going to be done has already and always been completed from the very beginning.
To find a stump of carrot in an open field is a real blessing. Are we trying to bless it again?
Or simply allowing ourselves the blessing of enjoying the inconceivable blessing already in hand?