Written by John Hargrave
"The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." - Numbers 6:24-26
I was driving to church for an evening meditation group. Slowing down traffic was a bicyclist in Spandex and a racing jersey, biking directly in the middle of the road. Behind him was a guy on a motorcycle, who honked at the bicyclist to pull over, so he could pass. Instantly, the bicyclist shot the motorcyclist the finger, and began shouting at him about biker rights.
This is a common thing in our state: in fact, the official name for a Massachusetts driver is a "masshole." When a fellow motorist yells at you, or curses your ancestors, it is difficult not to react with anger, or an even more creative swear. But I have come to view these episodes as a kind of spiritual discipline.
Somewhere in my UCC travels, I picked up a little trick: you look at the person and mentally recite, "May you be well, and free from suffering." By saying "free from suffering," you are not wishing them death. You are taking the unpleasant momentum of the moment, and redirecting it with a simple blessing.
Jesus said, "Love your enemies," but if you're leading a relatively stable lifestyle, you probably don't have many outright enemies. Who are we supposed to pray for? ISIS?
Imagine instead that Jesus said, "Love the most difficult people in your life." We all have plenty of those: overly needy friends, annoying co-workers, dysfunctional family members. Can we look at them, when they're really getting under our skin, and say wholeheartedly, "May you be well, and free from suffering"?
The bicyclist did eventually pull over, still hollering at the motorcyclist. As I passed him, instead of shooting him a dirty look, I shot him a little blessing: May you be well, and free from potholes.
May the difficult people in my life be well, and free from suffering.