Our theme for February is actually a challenge: write a piece without using first person pronouns (I, me, we, etc.)
Sometime in the waning years of the first millennium, a scribe slipped behind his writing desk in a dimly lit room in the south of England. He turned the vellum pages of an illuminated psalter lying on the ink-stained wood. Picking up a quill, he tucked a line of now-Old English among the Latin: “Dryhtnes is haelu, & ofer folc ðin bledsung ðin.”
This notation, written around 825 A.D. in the Anglo-Saxon Vespasian Psalter, contains the earliest recorded use of the word bledsung-bletsung-blescunge-blettcing-blissinge-blyssinge-blessing: “…and may your blessing be on your people.”
Blessing, n. The form of words used to declare or invoke divine favor, by God, or one speaking in his name. From the Old English blóedsian, or to mark with blood something deemed sacred. The word was used to translate the Latin benedicere, or “to speak well of,” which was used to translate the Hebrew brk, or “to bend.” To bless, then is to bend toward holiness.
A cultural artifact:
On February 9, @SinowBeats tweeted a photo of himself smooching a canister of Cheetos. Caption: Aren’t we just the cutest couple? So lucky to have you xx can’t wait to spend Valentine’s Day together xxx #blessed
From the Taize tradition, meant to be repeated until the words sing themselves.
“The blessing hands of Christ are like a roof that protects us. But at the same time, they are a gesture of opening up, tearing the world open so that heaven may enter in, may become ‘present’ within it.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
In her book An Altar in the World, Episcopal priest Barbara Brown Taylor notes that an act of blessing doesn’t instill something with holiness. Rather, it brings out the holiness innate in every part of creation. Just as each person holds a holy flame, so does every rock, every tree, every animal—even the ones so commonplace we’ve stopped seeing them.
A blessing is a hand cupped around that holy flame, stilling its juddering dance against the winds of the world.
Finally, a poem:
Retrieved from the verbal detritus of Interim 2012;
To a Squirrel in Winter
In this world of falling-up snow,
May the wind that buoys the flakes not disturb your dreams.
When ice crackles the branches and moonglow chills the night sky,
May memories of sunshine warm your skin.
For this winter land is no friend to the small
And threatens to steal the breath of your brothers.
But may your belly be full, your branches steady,
And your paws sure in the crossing.
May your kindred be well and your paths safe.
And may you live in peace until the world warms again.
Geneva Langeland (’13) survived graduate school with minimal blood loss, escaping with her ms in environmental policy and communication. She now works in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as the communications editor at Michigan Sea Grant. There, she gets to hang out with educators, researchers, and communicators who love the Great Lakes as much as she does.