It was late and I was at Liz’s bedside. It was dark. A quiet moment. Her eyes were more closed than open, but she noticed me.
‘Why did you come back?’ she asked.
‘To give you the blessing,’ I said.
And I did, the one that I say most nights to the three kids, one at a time, often with my hand on each of their foreheads so that they know the weight and warmth of a father’s hand.
‘May God bless you and keep you. May he shine his face on you. May you always know the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.’
Children (and are you and I not children?) need a father’s blessing at a deep and primal place. Sometimes we can go through an entire life and not get it. Sometimes we get curses.
Yes, once there was a son. His father was in hospital, on the bed that he would soon die on. ‘Come,’ said the father to his son, a grown man. ‘I’m sorry,’ he then said. That covered a multitude of sins, a lifetime of withholding that blessing.
Later, on the same bed, not long before he breathed his last, that father called his son back. ‘Come,’ he said. ‘Come close.’ The son bent over. ‘You know what I said last week?’ said the father, barely able to push the needed air and sound from his mouth. ‘Forget it. I never said it. I take it back.’
True story, this is, this blessing that became a curse.
But we have another Father who has a way of turning even the darkest of curses into something else, something unexpected.
That’s why I came back, Liz. Because curses exist. But blessings are stronger.
Even in the middle of the night.