On Cursing (and Blessing), by Madeleine L’Engle

It is difficult to bless and not to curse when one’s control of a situation is taken away.

It is only when I am not afraid to recognize my own brokenness, to say, “Turn us again, Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine and we shall be whole” – that the broken bones may begin to heal, and to rejoice. Without this phos hilaron, this joyous light, we fight against our impotence, in our spiritual lives, our intellectual lives, a large portion of our physical lives.

But in the small events of daily living, we are given the grace to condition our responses to frustrations… If our usual response to an annoying situation is a curse, we’re likely to meet emergencies with a curse. In the little events of daily living we have the opportunity to condition our reflexes, which are built up out of ordinary things. And we learn to bless first of all by being blessed. My reflexes of blessing have been conditioned by my parents, my husband, my children, my friends.

Blessing is an attitude toward all of life, transcending and moving beyond words. When family and friends gather around the table to break bread together, this is a blessing. When we harden our hearts against anyone, this is a cursing. Sometimes a person, or a group of people, do or say something so terrible that we can neither bless nor curse. They are anathema. We put them outside the city walls, not out of revenge, not out of hate, but because they have gone beyond anything we fragile human beings can cope with. So we say, Here, God, I’m Sorry. This is more than I can handle. Please take care of it. Your ways are not our ways. You know what to do. Please.
–Madeleine L’Engle, The Irrational Season

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