Upon arriving in Dublin, our first stop will most appropriately be, St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The Cathedral was built in the 11th Century and it literally reeks of history where we will gain a brief overview. The Cathedral’s namesake, “St Patrick” provides us with a framework for going deeper into our appreciation of “Celtic Spirituality” and specifically as we seek to reclaim the lost art of blessing. Reclaiming the blessing requires an “experience” with God that is beyond the functional, anonymous, unimportant greetings of today.
As an example, how many times do we say, “thank you” only to hear the response “no problem.” Or asked, “how are you doing?” Do they really want to know? Greetings today provide space, boundaries, and anonymity. Celtic Spirituality encourages blessings by being present to God’s immanence in the events and personal experiences of our lives.
Again, today we might greet someone by saying “good morning.” In the 5th century for St. Patrick the word “good” was derived from the same word as God. Therefore, the expression of “good morning” (today) meant the same as “God’s morning” (then). Think about that shift as you get out of bed in the morning. This is not simply our morning that looks first at the weather, then makes coffee, listens to the news, gets upset by spilled milk—you get the idea. When it is our morning the day revolves all around us. When we open our eyes and become aware and attentive to the reality that this is God’s morning, we find ourselves positioned for God’s blessing—today. God enters our morning and blesses us with the dawning of a new day.
The beginning of our day, our lives, the creation of our world starts with a blessing. Something good and something of God is in the making. This blessing designs a new identity with God, and as a result, life will never be the same again. This is a good thing. Prior to being blessed when we looked out into the world, it was dark. Such a world had the power to make us stressed and helpless and there seemed like there was little we could do.
Recall again, the words of Patrick’s hymn, or breastplate, as he receives God’s blessing:
Christ be with me. Christ within me. Christ behind me. Christ before me. Christ beside me. Christ to win me. Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ beneath me. Christ above me. Christ in quiet. Christ in danger. Christ in hearts of all that love me. Christ in mouth of friend and stranger. I bind unto myself today, the strong name of the Trinity.
God’s blessing recognizes a good life in Christ that is permeated with love. By being blessed, we are open to choose and see possibilities for healing and transformation in our life and in the world around us, where our creativity awakens within us as we now become an active force of renewal, encouragement and take a step forward into the new day in Christ.
Today is a good day. It is God’s Day, to think about blessing this next generation. Statistically, they are least likely to profess faith in God. They need more than a hug, or a fist-bump, or an emoji thumbs-up that means little for the long haul. A blessing opens a different door for us to encounter and experience. One crosses the threshold into a life with God. By invoking God’s blessing, we are aware of a desire for something more. The Rev. George Strunk, retired pastor of Christ Church Methodist, Louisville, often included this blessing: “Do not pray for a task equal to your power, but rather pray for the power equal to your task. Then the doing of your work will be no miracle but you will be the miracle.” With a blessing, miracles happen!