“In Latin, to bless is benedicere,” writes Henri Nouwen. “The word ‘benediction’ that is used in many churches means literally: speaking (dictio) well (bene) or saying good things of someone. To give someone a blessing is the most significant affirmation we can offer… It is more than a word of praise or appreciation; it is more than pointing out someone’s talents or good deeds; it is more than putting someone in the light. To give a blessing is to affirm, to say ‘yes’ to a person’s Belovedness.”
In Sri Lanka, all I have been is blessed.
This has come without speaking, without shared letters and syllables and participles.
This has come without doing, anything really, on my part. I have never been asked to perform. I have just come.
Blessing has come from Hiruni, who smoothed my forearms with her new lotion, and then gently, deliberately, dusted powder onto my face. Blessing has come from Heshan, as he ran from under the mango tree to give me three pieces of his precious birthday cake. Blessing has come from Nadeesha, Prasadi, and Madushani as they’ve combed and braided and woven flowers into my hair, and from Slewkamari, as she’s filled my plate at every meal, and poured water over my fingers afterward. Blessing has come as pastel sketches, as communal naps on the tile floor, as pipe cleaner bracelets and sweets and one cracked plastic duck that was thrust into my pocket as I was leaving. Blessing has come as Deepa Auntie, who squeezed limes and made rice, and did everything for me when I was sick. Blessing flows from all directions, every day, and pools around me until I’m completely saturated and undone by it.
“To give a blessing is to say ‘yes’ to a person’s Belovedness.”
This is the thing I came to Sri Lanka to do; to remind the children that they are God’s Beloved. I’ve had some long days of feeling hopelessly inadequate: But I don’t speak their language. But I’m not qualified. And the tangible reminder that I am more than enough has come through the children themselves, and their extravagant love.
The other day a glitter fest happened in the art therapy room. We all left coated, with armoured fairytale scales that clung to our sweat-damp skin. When our friends saw us they came shrieking, rubbing cheek against cheek, elbow to elbow, claiming some of the sticky shiny stuff for themselves. Soon everyone was sparkling with all the shimmery colours of the rainbow, and everyone was happier. Four days later, the residuals are still clinging to eyelashes and winking up from under the collars of school uniforms.
“To give a blessing is to affirm, to say ‘yes’ to a person’s Belovedness. And more than that: To give a blessing creates the reality of which it speaks.”
I can’t get that glitter fest off my mind. I think knowing our identity as God’s Beloved is like dancing in glitter, rolling in it. It’s shamelessly beautiful. It rubs off on other people. And there’s more than enough for everybody.
This week, God has been reminding me of how simple blessing others can be. How joy, creativity, and flourishing can come in part from a 5-ounce container of glitter purchased from Michael’s and stashed in my suitcase. How when I rest in the King’s presence, and let him bless me, blessing others becomes easy. Ministry is restful. It’s delightful. It’s like dancing in a glitter storm.
Art therapy sessions are going so well– joy and creativity are running wild! Praise Jesus. Please pray that these precious ones would be affirmed in their identity as His.