Several years ago, I made a visit on Christmas morning to a parishioner who was in an assisted living home. He had a debilitating neurological disease that gradually impaired his speech. In his youth he sang professionally. Now he struggled to speak a single word.
As I entered his little room, I saw him sitting alone in his wheelchair. It was such a sad sight. I put on my best smile, wished him a Merry Christmas, and pulled a chair by his side. I then asked him, “How are you doing this Christmas morning?” And with this, he began the work of forming a word. As I sat waiting for his response, I wondered what he’d say and if I’d be able to understand it. Finally, he was able to give me his reply, and he simply said, “Blessed.”
The disease finally took its toll, and he is no longer with us. But I often think of this morning with him and ponder what it means to be blessed. I’m realizing that too often we think of being blessed as a time when everything is going great. Instead, being blessed is more about the state of our hearts, minds, and souls, regardless of what is going on around us.
As we near Christmas, we read in scripture of an unwed girl who will soon bear a child, and it says that she is “blessed.” This doesn’t sound like the pathway to blessing! But Mary’s faith helped her feel blessed in the midst of this hardship, just as it had with the man I visited one Christmas morning.