The Blessing

The Blessing

by Sr. Sheila Devane MMM                             Ireland                             10.06.2024

Frequently I end a letter, or an email, with the single word “Blessings.” When I do this I don’t see myself actually blessing anyone, in fact I hadn’t ever thought about how these blessings might be imparted until a day last week. Can I tell you about it?

I was sitting at the laptop near a window working away on client notes and through the blinds saw a figure outside; believing it was someone calling to the door I went out to find it was a man dressed in a workman’s outfit complete with crash helmet and high vis jacket. He greeted me as ma’am and told me that he had been cleaning the gutters of many of my neighbours’ houses and saw mine from on high – they were in a sad and sorry state. He then said that this is work he could do.

Without too much reflection or thought and mainly on automatic pilot I found myself greeting him back, thanking him for coming and saying that we were a registered charity and needed to only engage workmen from companies that were formally registered. I have to confess that I had no idea at this stage if this man’s company were a state one, a highly registered one or whatever, but somehow I got into this rant making a quick decision that I had a nice man who could rip me off any minute. So, far so bad.

I smiled and thanked him and somewhere in this “speech” I must have said something or other about this being a convent. He became animated and was no longer interested in talking about gutters but about his little boy Tony (his namesake) who is aged 6, autistic, nonverbal and needing our prayers. I was no longer on automatic pilot but listening with empathy as he talked of their efforts to get schooling and help for this young child. He had never been to school himself. He wondered would his son ever talk. Would he ever be able to live independently? Would he get the help he needed and how would they get it? He told me of how they are now praying to Carlo Acutis and he was thrilled I knew of this future, youthful, saint saying how they looked at videos of Blessed Carlo the night before.

I was on holy ground, listening to a deeply faithful man, witnessing here on the doorstep to a level of trust in God and a degree of hope in divine providence that were profound and so moving. As he went to leave, he said: “Goodbye ma’am – no you are Sister.” Then he turned around, came back, and asked for my blessing. I was shocked. There is always a first time. Here I was gathering myself together and praying a blessing for this concerned and holy parent.

My one, and big, regret is that I did not ask Tony to bless me. Somehow, I know he did.