Monday, October 27, 2008

being a blessing

the mission of the gathering is to "be a blessing to the city of salem." yesterday, my friend ryan chandler and i pursued this mission by stripping down to our boxers, monking up, scrawling "blessed are the poor" on a sign, holding a wooden cross aloft and offering free blessings* to anyone and everyone who was interested.

after our first couple of times padding down essex street generated only two blessings, we decided to make our offer more overt. so we went back into the gathering space, scrawled "free blessings" on a second piece of cardboard and headed back into the streets.

the rest of the afternoon was nothing short of remarkable. we had the opportunity to bless women who had just been told they were "hexed" with negative energy, we blessed a family of asian tourists in exchange for their request for a picture, we blessed homosexuals in vampire drag, a group of seven witchy women from sweden and the street preacher who tacks horrible depictions of hell on his a-frame, wears buttons that proclaim "Jesus hates obama" and attends nearly every event of any size in the greater boston area.

if i were to venture a guess, i'd say fifty percent of the individuals really wanted to be blessed, thirty percent expected a joke but got caught up in the moment, twenty ten were merely curious and ten percent were fulfilling a dare. i didn't keep count, but i'm pretty sure that we blessed a couple of hundred of people over the course of the the afternoon. moreover, i'm certain that ryan, pastor phil** and i were the primary beneficiaries of the blessing.

never before has Jesus command to "bless those who curse you,*** bless and do not curse" and henri's oft stated reminder that just like Jesus we are "God's beloved in whom he is well pleased," meant so much to me.

i'm finding it really hard to put the power of this experience into words. if you'd like to know more about it, feel free to join me in offering "free blessings" this weekend in salem.

* each of us offered blessings in our own way. phil blessed people with words of encouragement and, what appeared to me to be, words of insight while ryan and i usually blessed people with a form of the following blessing that i wrote yesterday morning: 'may our feet lead you to beauty, may your hands spark with creativity, may your mind be renewed. in the name of the creator, the liberator and the muse.'
** who joined me for the last hour and took the opportunity to bless visitors, ferrets and many people he already knew in salem
*** i quote this verse not because (many) people were cursing us or because i believe we were being persecuted for our faith. it's just the scripture that i kept thinking about time and again throughout the day. the real test of whether i've submitted to this command will be if, and when, our friends from repent america walk our streets later this week.


cade said...


g13 said...

shit! i never could count.

Mike Murrow said...

cade man, he is like Right Guard... he gives 110%... no? ok.

evan said...

G- Missy told me about this and I can't tell how much it grabbed my heart. I would like to spend some time doing this with you guys this weekend. What times are you going to be out there.

g13 said...

evan, thanks for your kind note. we will be out there as often as we can be. i will need to devote most of my energy to the human traffiking experience because it was my first commitment. however, if you took another person along with you (we always need to have two because of biblical concerns and liability issues:) you could definitely grab our robes, signs and cross and head out there on your own.

it was an AMAZING experience. i'm glad you're ready to dive in.

John said...

Awesome. Thanks for sharing. I'd like to be able to gather the courage to do the same here. How important do you think the attire was?

g13 said...

hi john, thanks for the note. it doesn't take much courage after the first hour or so. once you get past the awkwardness it's a blast!

as for the attire, it is totally necessary in the costume laden halloween culture of salem. i don't know that it would be absolutely essential in other contexts, but i think you would need to find a fun way to contextualize yourself or join the party so that people would feel less threatened by the experience.

you could always learn how to monk up and offer free blessings by joining us for a weekend of halloween outreach. we would love to have you any year!