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Why Grama Had All Those Pictures

January 19th, 2007 . by maria

My favorite author has always been Madeline L’Engle. In one of the passages she is talking about the difference between blessing and cursing people, and the need to speak blessing even for those we are at odds with. (Southern women say things like “He’s just not real bright … bless his heart.”) I have also been thinking a lot about a story told at my Grandmother’s funeral: that she had so many pictures of family and friends to remind her to pray for each one. My mind wants to link these ideas. Isn’t it eloquent to imagine blessing each person who comes to mind, as they enter your mind, throughout the day? Knowing my grama, I can easily believe she blessed each of us she saw our photo.

But Madeline takes it a step further (as Jesus did also). We are asked to bless our adversaries, our enemies, the unlovely people in our lives – the people whose pictures we would never want in our homes. My grama didn’t have pictures of her enemies, as far as I know…if she even had any, (which I doubt). But I can easily beleive she prayed for them, too. What would be the impact if our enemies were blessed? I don’t mean given everything they want, but being given the Lord’s blessings? The world would be changed.

Perhaps that is the reason for all my grandmother’s prayers. I am not alone in wishing – in vain – to follow her example. Liek many, I find it difficult sometimes to even wish for blessings for those I love. When they frustrate me, when I lose my patience, when we’ve had a spat, it sometimes seems harder to bless them than to bless an enemy. The enemy is separate, and to bless them requires only that I ignore a small part of my life. But to forgive the very fabric of my life…to know that a loved one intentionally made a hurtful comment and to bless them anyway, is an act of will. Perhaps that is why grama needed the pictures. It is too easy to try to ignore those things which make us uncomfortable, or to not think about the person whose lifestyole we don’t agree with. Unless their picture is staring right at you.

Madeline coins the phrase “Bless the bas***d”. While I can appreciate the easy flow of alliteration, the word bas***d is a bit too harsh for my tastes. It’s a word I wouldn’t have been allowed to say as a chile, and it carries a harsh judgement. But I can appreciate the sentiment, and this passage has influenced me. Instead of cursing someone, I think “bless the dummy”…and I find that I’ve blessed myself. I feel less stressed, less bothered, more loving. Imagine that.