WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

To Bless and Be Blessed

By Tania Márquez

“To give someone a blessing is the most significant affirmation we can offer.”
–Henri Nouwen

A Latinx mother crouches down to adjust her small child's backpack straps, smiling lovingly.

Blessings were an important ritual at home. Every morning when we were getting ready to leave our home for school, my mom would stand by the gate, where we stopped before taking that first step outside our home, and she would give us a blessing. She blessed us by making the sign of the cross on our face and chest. She also taught us a prayer to say as we left the house. Sometimes, I would turn back and would see her waving from the front door and sending another blessing from a distance. For her, the world outside was scary and dangerous; her hope was that those blessings would bring us back home and safe, to be together again.

No matter how chaotic our morning was, no matter how late we already were for school, her blessing suspended us in time for a moment. And right after it we were back to the same rhythm, to go on with our lives, to keep rushing to get where we needed to be. There was something very real and profound about this daily ritual.

As an adult, it took me a long time to realize that I, too, could bless. It was not easy to learn that I had the ability to bless, to send my good wishes and wishes of safety to those I love, or simply to recognize the sacredness of something or someone. Growing up, I had learned that elders, priests, mothers, and nuns could bless and—well, I was none of those for a long time. But then I discovered that blessing something or someone is recognizing their sacred nature, caring for them enough to want them to be protected, and a way of expressing my gratitude and reverence for them.

I believe now that all of us can bless, and when we stop to do so we create a pause: a breathing moment in our day to recognize what is holy or that something needs our recognition and care. A pause, perhaps, to interrupt the sped up rhythm of our bodies and minds. We can create blessings that recognize the sacredness of things, that affirm and validate us or others, blessings that make us and others feel affirmed, blessings that are prayers for all of us to find our way home, to our sanctuary, to our safe spaces and people.

A Blessing

I bless the beauty of your being, the sacredness of your breath, the unfolding of your spirit, the fullness of your humanity. I bless each moment you pause to recognize all that is holy in and around you.