Recovering the Secret ‘Art’ of the Blessing (by Lynne Farrow)
Blessing. That word makes me time warp back a few decades when preachers always wore black robes and raised their arms at the end of the service to pronounce a blessing – the benediction – the “good word” that wrapped up the salient points of the sermon and sent us out into world hopefully to be better Christians.
But my views of that word have broadened over the last decade. I’ve had the please of working as a visual artist, teacher and spiritual director/chaplain for the last nine years with an organization called Buildabridge. Their mission is to engage the transforming power of the arts to bring hope and healing to children, families, and communities in the tough places of the world.
But it’s their motto that makes my heart happy. This non-profit believes in speaking a blessing into the lives of every person every day through the arts. Blessing isn’t an activity set aside for pastors at the end of a Sunday worship service. It’s a way life lived out, in this instance, through the arts.
In my own neck of the woods, I have the pleasure of living out a life a blessing others through the arts each week doing art workshops with women recovering from substance abuse. One of the ways I extend blessing is to regularly feature their art work on my weekly blog about art, spirituality, healing and transformation.
Recently, I asked permission of Noemi to feature her feathered mask on my blog. She was surprised I would want to, but agreed. Later, when I told her the post had been web-published, she burst into tears. Not tears of distress, but tears of humble disbelief. In her story Feathers, you’ll see she’s learning not to believe the putdowns but to transform them. Even so, she still struggles with her previous destructive choices. The consequences are real and lamentable. Yet truthfully I could say to her, “Before I learned your story, I knew you to be lovely and lovable.” Wide eyes drinking in a blessing, diluting disbelief.
Jeremiah 31:3 reminds us that God has loved us with an everlasting love. And that He unfailingly draws us to Himself. The New Testaments tells us that He has done that through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Could there be any greater blessing?
Genesis 12:2 tells me that I am blessed so I can be a blessing to others. Blessing others is a radically wonderful way of life. For me, blessings are no longer the final wrap up to a Sunday service. They are the opportunity to creatively speak the love of Jesus into the life of every person every day – whether it involves art, or not.
Who has spoken a blessing into your life? What difference did it make? How have you creatively spoken a blessing into another person’s life? Who will you bless today?
Lynne Farrow, MA, MFT, is an artist, spiritual director and marriage and family therapist living in CA. She has taught a course on art and spiritual development for BuildaBridge’s Institute for Art in Transformation allied with Eastern University’s Urban Studies masters program in Philadelphia. Lynne has presented numerous workshops for the Princeton Forum on Youth Ministry and currently leads weekly therapeutic art classes and open studio opportunities for a faith-based substance abuse recovery program. Lynne is the author/compiler of two books: Art & Soul: An Arts-Integrated Resource Book on Worship and Art-Making & Metaphor: An Arts-Integrated Resource Book for Facilitating Personal Awareness and Transformation. Visit Lynne’s website at www.lynnefarrow.com.