Monday, June 27, 2022



Twice, this evening, I have been called upon to give a blessing.

Having walked with Jo to the running club, from where she was boarding a minibus to take part in a women-only race, I was asked whether I had turned up to give the team a blessing. In fact, by the time the question was posed, I had already given my blessing, in the form of strawberry, galia and watermelon skewers I’d made for the picnic after the race.

On the way home, I passed my friend and neighbour Mario, mowing his lawn, and crossed over the road to say hello. Gardening is not his favourite thing. As we talked, and he took a break from pulling up weeds, another friend passed by, and stopped, and joined in the conversation. Mario jokingly claimed I had come by to bless his weeds. I jokingly responded that he should ask me to curse them instead. As we talked, Mario’s wife came out of the house, and the joke was repeated. After she drove off and we continued to chat, three men, one standing on the garden terrace above us, one leaning on the garden wall, one (me) sitting on the wall, several other friends from the running club came running along the pavement towards us. I stretched out my hand to high five them as they passed.

On reflection, and joking aside, Mario was right, and I was wrong. For it was a blessing that the weeds in his garden needed, and not a curse. And it was a blessing that they received.

To bless is to see something for what it is, for what it is in its own right and not its utility towards us; to suspend judgement on whether it is a good thing or a bad thing; and to become open to receiving its blessing in return: not necessarily the blessing we think we want (it would be nice not to have to do the gardening so often) but the blessing it has, to bestow on us.

Blessed are you,

rosebay willow herb growing in Mario’s garden,

for you gave occasion for our paths to meet this day,
and invitation to stop and talk a while,
with other friends and neighbours,
and will do so again.

Blessed are you, oh grass,
for you turn sun and soil and water into life,
and by the sweat of our brow
that did not bring you forth
but enables you to flourish within bounds,
we discover again that we are also alive,
gift of the same God,
and flourish, within the bounds of birth and death
and where we have been planted
and with whom.

Blessed are you, Mario’s garden,

for, despite his protestations,
and despite my own,
you bring us together.


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