My son blessed me last night. Not in the typical, motherly, “Oh my child is such a blessing,” way. He literally blessed me. After he crawled into bed, he said, “Mommy, I want to give you a blessing.” He took my hand, made the sign of a cross on it and said, “Mommy, you are a blessing and God loves you very much.” Cue absolutely melted heart.
It’s not the first time. You see, he has been blessed in much this same way for most Sundays of his life as he leaves Sunday school and Children’s Chapel. I would love to say that I’m the mom who remembers to offer that same blessing to him every night after prayers, but some nights it’s all we can do to get him to bed and still remain sane (of course, those are the nights we probably ALL need the blessing). But, many nights I do remember to look him in the eye and offer him this same blessing and I am always amazed at how meaningful it is to me.
Then I remembered Rev. Matt Ybanez’s definition of blessing last Sunday morning: A profound connection that binds us with God and God’s people regardless of what we have or do not have. I also asked my colleague and friend, Rev. Dr. Leanne Hadley, who has based her entire ministry on children and blessing, what her definition is. She said, “Blessing is a reminder of who you are . . . God created you and so you are a blessing! And then, with the blessing comes the implication that you are blessed to bless others.”
Connection with God and God’s people. Receiving and giving. I have to tell you, I felt that connection last night in the midst of my son’s bedtime routine. God was there in a way I deeply needed to feel God’s presence.
And so, I wanted to offer you a blessing for the New Year. However, none of my go-to resources had anything good, and I wasn’t feeling very creative to write my own. So I did what we all do. I went to Google; and I discovered an article I hadn’t been expecting.
Rabbi Benjamin Blech, in his article on aish.com, “Jews Don’t Say Happy New Year,” points out that the traditional wish or blessing Jews wish each other is not, “Happy New Year.” Instead, they say the Hebrew phrase “shanah tovah,” which “conveys hope for a good year rather than a happy one.”
I love words and I was intrigued by the difference these two words convey. I have had years that I, in no way, would characterize as “happy” years. However, when I think about it, I am able to see the good even in those years, where God and God’s light shone even in the darkness.
The article goes on to discuss recent scientific research into the difference between “happy” and “meaningful,” primarily settling on the findings that people who report a life of meaning, based on receiving and giving, find lasting joy in life over those who are focused on the pursuit of happiness for the sake of happiness alone.
Furthermore, I was reminded of where we first see the word “good” in the Bible – at creation, when all was most connected with God and each day’s creations were blessed as “good.” It’s a great article. I’m not doing it justice. Here’s the link: http://www.aish.com/print/?contentID=221312731§ion=/jw/s
Receiving and giving. Connection with God and God’s people. Blessing.
And so, I offer you this New Year’s blessing (yes, I wrote it myself!):
May you have a good, meaningful year ahead,
Deeply living into your connection with God,
Receiving God’s blessing in who you are, as you are,
And, in turn, offering blessing as you connect with others.