Ritual blessings

Peace be with you (and also with you)
words from my radio reverberating through
reminding me of so many Sunday masses
of gloriously coloured dresses on men
of parades with candles, song and incense
filling the air with that distinctive smell
smoke drifting past stained glass panes
shepherds and sheep, deep reds and blues

The message buried beneath layers of ritual
standing sitting kneeling in fixed intervals
flipping through our leather bound missal
distracted by pages of ceremonial verse
words never used in my everyday language
epiphany, annunciation, transfiguration
pronouncing them this way and that
trying to find meaning from their sounds

Meanwhile going through the motions
watching the phases of habitual ritual
I caught no inkling of The Maker here
nor even a whisper of The Giver either
just men in robes with candles and smoke
somewhere separate down at the front
by an alter which really any fool could see
was just a big table with fancy tassels on

But one part I can always remember
the lead up to the finish, the final blessing
the main man would stretch out his arms
mirroring the pose on the cross overhead
and in solemn tones after a long pause
would come those sacred words so familiar
"peace be with you", and in my gratitude
an end at last, I'd reply "and also with you"

Outside trooping past the robed old men
shaking damp hands, exchange of smiles
then on to the long walk home in silence
a further continuation of the holy hush
the sky gradually drawing my gaze upwards
watching the clouds scatter white on blue
seeing evidence at last of The Maker there
a hint of The Giver gentle on the breeze

I remember Dad repeating his blessings
a sad tradition after far too much to drink
may the Lord bless you and keep you
may the Lord make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious unto you, may the Lord
turn his face toward you and give you peace
I prefer simply turning my face windwards
whispering to the breeze, peace be with you


  1. "an alter which really any fool could see
    was just a big table with fancy tassels on", perfect.

    I think you're right to simply wish it on the breeze.

  2. I've always felt that if you build a house to whorship, you lose your true view of God.