COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
I hope you have all had a wonderful summer. We have been blessed with some lovely weather and I have really tried not to moan that I was too hot, having spent the last few months whinging about the cold and rain!! I also felt blessed when the hot weather broke and we got some refreshing rain but after a couple of days, I was back to moaning about the rain and praying for sun!! I guess that’s just how it is in England but it did provoke some thoughts about what we think of as blessings and how quickly we move on from our thankfulness and want even more.
I remember my Grandma telling me that I should ‘count my blessings’ whenever I was moany and grumpy and I think there is a lot of wisdom in her words. As a society, we are quick to moan and complain but how often do we sit back and actually think about the many positives in our lives? Perhaps if we resolved to counter every complaint with a positive then we would realise just how blessed we really are. I have decided to ‘practise what I preach’, so to speak, and now whenever I find myself moaning, I make myself remember something that I feel I’ve been blessed with - it’s quite a sobering experiment.
One of the things that I have been hugely blessed with over the summer has been the experience of overcoming a fear of mine and that blessing has gone far beyond my expectations.
So what exactly is a blessing?
A blessing is a prayer asking for God’s favour and protection and also the receiving of God’s favour and protection. We gather in church every Sunday to worship God and to ask for His blessing on ourselves, our communities and each other and we also ask God to bless the work that we do in His name. Sometimes priests are also asked to bless houses or ships, or in my particular case this August, horses!
But a blessing is a funny thing......because when we ask God to bless something or someone and trust in His promise to hear us when we ask something of Him, we often find that the blessing reverberates and rebounds and goes far further than we ever imagined.
As you may have read in the last edition of PAX, Sunday 12thAugust saw my third Horse Blessing Service in the two years since I have been here.......the first one being just two weeks after I arrived in this parish.
Having always been fearful of horses, the blessing services were a challenge but I discovered last year that horses were less scary than I had first thought and I foolishly declared that I would attempt to take the service on horseback this year!
Never one to back down from a challenge, I went along to the stables where I was patiently and gently coaxed onto the back of a beautiful cob called Ringo. I was terrified! For several weeks, I went along to the stables and each time I hoped that my fear would ease - it didn’t. I knew that Ringo could tell how scared I was, I think it was the quivering knees that gave me away, but this wonderful horse was so placid and calm that I began to learn to trust him.
Each time I got on his back I would tell him how scared I was and ask him to please be nice! I could sense the power in his muscles and I was under no illusion that I had any control over him whatsoever. If Ringo had decided to rid himself of this quivering vicar then there was nothing I could have done to stop him! It was a very humbling experience to be gifted the generous compliance and tenderness of such a powerful beast.
Anyway, the long and the short of it was that I did indeed manage to learn enough to take the Horse Blessing Service on horseback. The turnout was magnificent, with 60 people and 22 horses in attendance and over £200 raised for ‘Riding for the Disabled’. Each horse was blessed - and given a carrot of course - but the reality was that I received the biggest blessing. You see, I had simply continued with the Horse Blessing Service because it was a tradition and important to the community here but, in doing so, that blessing has rebounded and gone further than I ever imagined it could.
I, for one, have been blessed by the kindness and generosity of all the people at the stables and the many others who have encouraged me to conquer my fears, but I also know that many other people have felt blessed to be part of this whole experience. From the conversations that were had at the stables, to the people who were glad of the chance to share their passion for horses with those they met at the service. There was an acknowledgement that we can all learn something when we are prepared to step into another person’s comfort zone and out of our own and that was a blessing to everyone - not just the horses - and has led to discussions on what else we can do together.
I am still a little scared of horses but also rather sad that this experience has ended. I have certainly learned that God moves in mysterious ways and that if we just trust in Him and work together to offer ourselves to be a blessing to others, God will take that blessing and make it rebound and reverberate in ways that we can barely imagine. Thanks be to God.
With love - Ginni