In her book “My Grandfather’s Blessing” Rachel Naomi Remen shares a childhood memory. “Each Friday afternoon after school she would arrive at her Grandfather’s house, where he would serve her tea at the kitchen table. And after tea he would set two candles on the table and light them. Then he would have a word with God in Hebrew. Sometimes he would speak out loud, but often he would close his eyes and be quiet. I knew then that he was talking to God in his heart. I would sit and wait patiently because the best part of the week was coming. When Grandpa finished talking to God, he would turn to me and say, ‘Come, Neshumele. Then I would stand in front of him and he would rest his hands lightly on the top of my head. He would begin by thanking God for me and for making him my Grandpa. He would mention my struggles during that week and tell God something about me that was true. Each week I would wait to find out what that was. If I had made mistakes during the week, he would mention my honesty in telling the truth. If I had failed, he would appreciate how hard I had tried. If I had taken even a short nap without my nightlight, he would celebrate my bravery in sleeping in the dark. Then he would give me his blessing …These few moments were the only time in my week when I felt completely safe and at rest. My family of physicians and health professionals were always struggling to learn more and to be more. It seemed there was always more to know. It was never enough. If I brought home a 98 on a test from school, my father would ask, ‘And what happened to the other two points?’ I pursued those two points relentlessly throughout my childhood. But my grandfather did not care about such things. For him, I was already enough. And somehow when I was with him, I knew with absolute certainty that this was so.
My grandfather died when I was seven years old. I had never lived in a world without him in it before, and it was hard for me. He had looked at me as no one else had and called me by my special name, ‘Neshumele’ which means ‘beloved little soul.’ There was no one left to call me this anymore. At first I was afraid that without him to see me and tell God who I was, I might disappear. But slowly over time I came to understand that in some mysterious way, I had learned to see myself through [my grandfather’s] eyes. And that once blessed, we are blessed forever.
Many years later when, in her extreme old age, my mother surprisingly began to light candles and talk to God herself, I told her about these blessings and what they had meant to me. She had smiled at me sadly, ‘I have blessed you every day of your life, Rachel,’ she told me. ‘I just never had the wisdom to do it out loud.'”
In this Season of Lent our focus is on blessings and we hope that you to will remember that God has blessed you and you are blessed forever.
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 9:8
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
What good works fill your days?
Who has blessed you?
How are you a blessing to others?
Prayer: Holy God, let me light a candle for the ones who helped fashion my being and let me abound in good work throughout this day. Amen.
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