March 10

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. —Numbers 6:24-26

In the closing moments of the Sunday-morning service, our pastor raises his arms toward heaven and calls down the blessing of the Lord upon all of us in the congregation. I bow my head in the contemplative prayer that has become for me, a pre-blessing ritual. I am a greedy child of God—I want every blessing, every gift the Lord has for me; I want nothing within me to hinder His giving or my receiving.

All too frequently, as I put down my hymnal and turn my hands palms-up to receive the blessing, I wince; I find my hands already full. Sometimes my fists are clenched, white knuckled, in unresolved anger, as they were the week a hit-and-run driver fatally injured our small calico cat. Sometimes I find myself holding on to brooding resentments over words spoken to me in the heat of an argument; or worse, I may be holding on to the guilt of harsh words I've spoken to others. Sometimes I'm clutching habitual worries I thought I'd let go the previous Sunday, only to find that through the days that followed I've picked them up again. So I begin my weekly ritual of letting go:

In these moments, Lord, I empty my hands and open them to You.

I let go of anger; fill and bless me with Your love.

I let go of guilt; fill and bless me with forgiveness.

I let go of self-pity; fill and bless me with a grateful heart.

I let go of worries and fear; fill and bless me with trust.

I let go of the hurts of the past; fill and bless me with the promise of the present.

Bless me and keep me, Lord. Let Your face shine upon me, uphold me, and give me peace.

—Fay Angus