It’s been radio silence for a couple of weeks now on the blogging front. I’m not even sure why… The lecturing is done, the dissertation is done, the extra lecture series I was attending is finished - and yet I seem as busy as ever! In fact, I don’t even seem to have time to read as much of my usual stuff, perhaps mostly because I am trying to catch up on all the reading I wanted to do in the last term for that lecture series I attended.
I won’t bore you with reflections on that reading…mostly because the ideas are too complex for me to have formulated any opinions yet or, more importantly for me, to have worked out potential applications! Let it suffice to say that I feel as if I am in the middle of some great ocean of knowledge, not yet able to swim because I have no idea which direction might prove most fruitful.
Someone somewhere that I have read in the last two or three days (yes, keeping notes would have been a good idea but that takes too long when you are trying to cover swathes of material at only a high level!) said that we learn best when we have boundaries to the subject area that we can see. I think that’s true. Once I know where the shores of this sea lie, then I feel better about knowing how to navigate it and become familiar Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net with it. After that, I can start testing those boundaries to see whether they are really the boundaries of this ocean of knowledge.
But I said I wouldn’t bore you, so enough of that!
This morning I have read some more of Nouwen’s ‘Life of the Beloved’ and have been reflecting on his idea of blessing others using words as the ‘expression…of the blessing that rests on us from all eternity’. To give a blessing is, he says, ‘the most significant affirmation we can offer’.
It has caused me to start thinking about how I choose to bless others with what I say. How often do I speak over someone the truth of their Belovedness, as Nouwen would say? How often do my words call forth for another the reality of which those words speak?
You see, I believe in the power of words to help us hear ‘that we belong to a loving God who will never leave us alone’. Yet I know also that not all of us receive such blessings well. We don’t know what to say, what to do, when someone affirms us. We feel awkward perhaps. It’s just not British, we think…! And so to bless becomes almost awkward for the one offering that affirmation. It becomes easier to stay quiet.
Nouwen picks up on this widespread inability to receive a blessing, suggesting that perhaps the answer is the ‘cultivation of presence’, the stopping, the paying attention, and the receiving gracefully of those blessings spoken over us.
So this morning I am asking two questions:
- How often do I intentionally seek to bless others, even when I know they are going to brush it off or become so embarrassed that I feel bad for drawing attention to them?
- And how might I learn to receive more gracefully the affirmations of others who seek to bless me?