Easter 3: Blessing That Does Not End

Image: And Open Our Eyes to Behold Love’s Face
© Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Easter 3: Luke 24.13-35

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
—Luke 24.31

Following so close on the heels of Easter Sunday, this week held what would have been my seventh wedding anniversary with Gary. As the anniversary approached (part of the ghost calendar that I recently wrote about on my author page on Facebook), I found myself thinking about the blessings that wove through our wedding day. There were blessings spoken during the ceremony, blessings offered at the reception, blessings embedded in the very fact of being enfolded by a lifetime’s worth of family and friends who had gathered to bless us as we began to make our married life together.

On this anniversary, it came to me with particular clarity that a blessing does not end. This is part of the fundamental nature of a blessing: the energy and the grace of it cannot dissipate or disappear. The form of a blessing might change with changing circumstances, but it cannot be destroyed. The essence of a blessing endures. It lives in the community that mediated the blessing and continues to hold it in memory and celebration; it lives in the hope that persists; it lives most of all in the love that called forth the blessing in the first place—the love that is, as the Song of Songs tells us, as strong as death. (Stronger, I would say.)

When we experience horrendous, life-altering loss, it can seem that the blessing we had known has indeed disappeared. When a person who had embodied that blessing and borne that blessing in our lives is no longer physically present, it can become difficult to believe that the blessing is still present, is still active, is still in force. Part of the invitation of grief is to keep our eyes and our hearts open to how the blessing persists, how it still wants to be known in our lives, and how it wants to help us live still when our lives have fallen apart.

In this week’s gospel lection, we witness the enduring power of a blessing. Walking the road to Emmaus with the risen Christ, Cleopas and his companion feel the burning of the blessing in their hearts. Not until they sit down at the Emmaus table with Jesus, hear him speak words of blessing, and see him break the bread, does recognition begin to dawn.

Then their eyes were opened, Luke tells us. They recognize, they see, they know the truth of the One before them: that the Christ who came as Love made flesh, as blessing embodied, will continue to live in the love that is stronger than death.

Blessing That Does Not End

From the moment
it first laid eyes
on you,
this blessing loved you.

This blessing
knew you
from the start.

It cannot explain how.

It just knows
that the first time
it sat down beside you,
it entered into a conversation
that had already been going on
forever.

Believe this conversation
has not stopped.

Believe this love
still lives—
the love that crossed
an impossible distance
to reach you,
to find you,
to take your face
into its hands
and bless you.

Believe this
does not end—
that the gesture,
once enacted,
endures.

Believe this love
goes on—
that it still
takes your face
into its hands,
that it presses
its forehead to yours
as it speaks to you
in undying words,
that it has never ceased
to gather your heart
into its heart.

Believe this blessing
abides.
Believe it goes with you
always.
Believe it knows you
still.

—Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief

For a previous reflection on the Emmaus story, click the image or title below.


Easter 3: Known

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “And Open Our Eyes to Behold Love’s Face,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (This is also available as an art print. After clicking over to the image’s page on the Jan Richardson Images site, just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section.) Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

4 Responses to “Easter 3: Blessing That Does Not End”

  1. Peggy Says:

    I love the reflection on a blessing you touched my heart

  2. Shirley Says:

    Jan,
    Reading about the ghost calendar made me realize that I’m living with this same type of calendar. I put my husband’s name, Elwyn, in as I was reading
    your words, they remind me that he does still live in my “real calendar” everyday. Thank you for sharing, you are helping me as I go on this journey of grief.

  3. Linda Goddard Says:

    Jan,

    I love your “ghost calendar” idea! Reading your “Easter 3: Blessing That Does Not End,” I am reminded of many losses in my life–the people and experiences that have gone from my life but that I carry inside my skin, around my heart. Sometimes they seem to slip out from under my eye lids when suddenly a turn of light in the morning, or a neighbor’s low voice floats over the hedge and there they are again inviting me to notice.

    I’ve thought often over the past couple of weeks of your wedding anniversary. I continue to send blessings, dear one.

  4. Elke Finley Says:

    What a beautiful beautiful blessing! This one touches me deeply.

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