Thursday, 5 May 2011

ironic blessing

A friend stayed at our house last weekend - someone who's very intentional about nurturing children's spirituality. Our daughters wanted her to do the bedtime routine - stories, prayers, etc. The thing that my daughters loved most (and have asked for ever since) was a blessing that she said to them.

My friend told me about this, and called it the "Aaronic Blessing." I heard "ironic blessing," was a bit puzzled, and vowed to learn more about what this ironic blessing was.

So... here it is! The Aaronic blessing from Numbers 6:24-26: (spoken by God to Moses, to tell Aaron and his sons the way to bless the Israelite people)

"The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you,
and give you peace."

This is how we've adapted it: "May God bless you and keep you, and may God's face shine upon you and give you peace."

What a great way to go to sleep, eh? I heard Eden blessing her stuffed bunny with this Aaronic blessing tonight.

But back to irony and blessings. Have you ever felt ironically blessed? Situational irony is when actions taken result in an effect exactly opposite from what was intended. A friend of mine was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS years ago. She called this a blessing - a second chance to change her life. I've heard of others who talk of hardship in their lives as a blessing. I hope that I will have the strength to see my own hardships as ironic blessings when they come. The kind of super-faith that can still give thanks even in the midst of despair.

But what would a profound reflection on irony be without Alanis Morissette?

I'm a bit hard-pressed to find examples of irony in this song, though. "Rain on a wedding day"? It's actually an Irish blessing (I know, because it rained on my wedding day). Maybe that's Alanis' version of an ironic blessing. Most of her other examples just seem like unfortunate circumstances. Not really ironic. "A traffic jam when you're already late"? Bad luck. "A no smoking sign on your cigarette break"? Too bad for you. "10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife"? Sucks, eh? "Meeting the man of your dreams, and then meeting his beautiful wife"? Bad timing, but perhaps an ironic blessing in disguise.

a proposed way of indicating irony,
called the "irony mark"
¡¿Who knew?!


  1. Did Eden notice that we ended the service on Sunday by singing the 'ironic blessing'? (And then Kevin also spoke it as the benediction.)
    Since Levi was young we've had a bedtime tradition that the last words I speak to him are: "God loves you sweet child. Sleep in peace." (from the book by Ingrid Hess) He often repeats them back to me, or asks that we say them together at the same time. I love that moment of the day.

  2. Yes, she did! Her ears certainly perked up. I love the prayer you use too. So rewarding to hear those prayers spoken back to us, eh? Since this post, Eden has also blessed our guinea pig with this same blessing. And last night she insisted on blessing me too. She put her little hand on my forehead and everything. yes, a great moment of the day.