Waiting For That Blessing

Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.

We have audio tapes in our library that go back almost twenty years. Some tapes are so old that they even stick together. Even though there is a season for everything, including casting away, there is hesitancy in doing this in view of the fact that these tapes could speak to the issues of today.

One such tape deals with the Exodus event, a key theme in the Hebrew Bible. Strangely, it was elucidating to me to learn that the Hebrew people had to learn Who their God was and to be told by their leader Who God was for them. Gradually, they learned that their God was a personal God, Who cared about them. When the winds came along and made a path in the sea, it was Yahweh who did this. It was not the case of saying to themselves, “Whew! We made it through this one. Let’s get on with life.” In a sense, it is the same with us. Gradually, day by day, year by year until the end, we grow in the knowledge of Who God is for us. In pondering this, I was reminded of the quote that encourages us to hold fast to a difficult situation until it gives us a blessing.

The Spark Of God

Rachel Naomi Remen talks about her grandfather, who was a scholar of the Kabbalah, the mystic teachings of Judaism. According to this teaching, at some point in the beginning of things, the Holy was broken up into little sparks and scattered around the universe.1 Jesuit Karl Rahner also speaks of the spark of God in everyone and everything. This spark can speak to us from hidden places at any time, even from the human heart. I ask myself how I would explain to someone what a blessing is. It would appear that a blessing is recognizing and acknowledging the Presence of the Holy in all those little, obscure and unexpected meetings with the Divine.

Recently, I came across a book entitled The Shattered Lantern - Rediscovering the Felt Presence of God, by Ronald Rolheiser. Both the title and the subtitle have stayed with me. We know from the writings of John of the Cross that our image of God changes as time goes on. In the face of this, we long for the relationship that used to be, together with the strength that this relationship brought. However, maybe the aspects of the Dark Night, though necessary, are not meant to be as troubling as they seem. Perhaps, at some point, (actually again and again), we are called to rediscover the felt Presence of God. The accent is on “rediscover.” It would seem that, at this stage of our inner walk, we are called to meet and acknowledge the acting presence of God many times and in many ways throughout each ordinary day. This is what St. Therese of Lisieux did. And, because of that, the whole world is drawn to her, and resonates with her. Giving a blessing is acknowledging this Presence and bringing it into the open. It is opening a wee window for the Reign of God to become more visible right before our eyes. It probably should be emphasized that these ways will be little ways.

Heaven And Earth Meet

I have a friend who once shared with me her retreat resolution. She told me it was easy and natural for her to see the good in others, and that she herself felt built up and strengthened by what she saw. However, it never occurred to her that maybe she should give voice and recognition to this goodness. She made it her retreat resolution somehow to give concrete expression to the beauty she saw. Perhaps, in these cases, there is a spark of God just waiting to be born. In these moments, heaven and earth meet. In effect, we are saying: “I see the Divine spark in you.”2

Giving a blessing is more than just saying a prayer. It could be that, on some days, the person next to us needs a blessing more than they need a prayer. As Remen points out, everyone matters in this world. When we bless others, we offer them a refuge from whatever may be unfriendly or not genuine in their lives. We help others remember who they are.3 We also help them recall what was shown them on “that other day,”4 the day before they were born. Does anything else matter? And, when we bless, something happens to us as well. A bit of wholeness comes to be.

Speaking The Kindness Of God

St. Thérèse, the Little Flower, went to St. Paul’s “Letter to the Corinthians” to find what her mission in life might be. We know that she found what she was searching for. She would be Love in the Heart of the Church and of the World. This same chapter in Corinthians lists other spiritual gifts. It would appear that among these gifts is that of speaking the kindness of God to others, on the day they may need it most.


1 Rachel Naomi Remen. My Grandfather’s Blessings. New York: Riverhead Books, 2002, p.2.
2 Ibid., p.5.
3 Ibid., p.6.
4 Tr. Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross. Washington, D.C. 1979, p.555.