Saturday, March 26, 2016

WHEN "GOD BLESS YOU" MAKES ME SMILE




Pic.: Chetna Shetty


Today, one of my eleventh-standard students – 16 or 17 year old – came to meet me with a thank-you card. She had written a couple of lines expressing her gratitude; I was touched. And, in the end, she had written – what I see everywhere these days – “God Bless You”!

I smiled!

In fact, I smile every day, when I see this expression – “God Bless You” – used repeatedly by everyone and everywhere… In cards, books and messages

“God Bless You”… yes, this has become as common – rather as casual – as a ‘Thank-you’, a “Sorry” and an “Excuse me”!

I smile because…

When we were small, our parents and teachers taught us to ‘seek’ blessings from our elders - parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts, teachers, priests, nuns or any elders… We were taught to do it respectfully with our folded hands (just as my Hindu or Sikh brothers and sisters were taught to bend down to touch feet respectfully). We were taught to say ‘Bless me" (followed by uncle/aunty/mom/dad/grandma/grandpa/teacher and so on) to seek the blessings from our elders.

And, our elders - gently holding our folded hands - would reciprocate it saying, “God Bless you my child.”

“You can bless someone – say ‘God Bless You” - only when you are older than him or her,” we were told clearly by our parents and teachers, “Otherwise, you should only ‘seek’ blessings - say “Bless me”.

Seeing everyone around me use the expression - “God Bless You” – for everything, to everyone and at everywhere, I have suddenly become conscious of this expression. Yes, I feel tempted to shower God’s blessings on everyone... like a Bishop or the Pope, with all glory and majesty – “In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.” Means: “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

But, then, remembering what was taught to me as a little child, I hold back my temptation and smile…

Frankly, it is perfectly okay if a 16-year-old says to me “God Bless You”. I need God’s blessings, don’t I?

My only problem is: I, at 57, can’t bring myself to do that before an 80-year-old…  I would rather fold my hands or touch feet, gently, and say – “Bless me.”


GERALD D’CUNHA

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