I had the privilege of witnessing a beautiful ceremony a couple of weeks ago. The daughter of some good friends was dedicated in a naming ceremony at church. In the UU faith, children are welcomed into the church family by the entire congregation in a ritual that involves blessing them with the four elements – earth, air, fire and water. It was a celebration of new life and an affirmation of a community who is committed to loving and supporting her as she grows.
Blessings can come in many forms — the good, the bad, and even the ugly. We are blessed by those in our lives who love and support us. We are blessed by the beauty of the natural world, by that which inspires and excites us, by the sun and the moon, the wind and the rain, the plants and the creatures that cover the earth. We are blessed by all the positive things that happen to us as we journey through life. But we are also blessed by the difficult times, by the challenges we face, by those who do not support us. We are blessed by these things because they present us with opportunities – opportunities to grow, to learn, to overcome obstacles.
Recently, I faced one of those difficult times. The day after the Dedication ceremony, I learned that the father of one of my students passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. The circle of life is a natural process – birth, life, death are common to us all. But to have death occur so close to a beautiful celebration of life makes it hard to accept the blessing that I know must be in it. And seeing the face of my student back at school, trying to focus on catching up but clearly just going through the motions of the day makes me think of my own father and the grief I will feel when I lose him.
Besides receiving blessings, we can also bestow them. We should bless the people in our lives, both those who love us and those who don’t, those who support us and those who wish us harm. We need to bless the birth of a child and the death of a young father, the happy moments and the sad ones. Life is full of both, and all life should be blessed.
May your life be blessed. May you be a blessing to those around you. And may you find blessings where you least expect them.