A few days ago I got to offer blessings in downtown Nashville, right outside Christ Church Cathedral. As I set up on the sidewalk in the shade of a magnolia tree, a tractor pulling a party wagon drove by. The passengers were dancing — rightfully so — to Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman.”
I made the sign of the cross through the air while they cheered, raised their beers to me, and took my picture. These wagons and other party busses are a dime a dozen, especially since Nashville is the most popular destination for bachelorette parties in the U.S. Who knew?
But aside from the busses and the number of times I said, “God bless y’all,” my experience blessing passersby in Nashville was not much different from my experience in Manhattan.
Most people ignored me. I got a fair number of smiles and nods from others who walked past. One man wouldn’t look at me yet waved as if to say, “I’m embarrassed to be doing this, but I would feel bad if I didn’t acknowledge your presence.” Total high school adolescence vibes.
Then there were those who stopped. As usual, prayer requests varied.
“I’m running the marathon tomorrow. Can I get a blessing for that?”
“My 13 year old daughter needs healing from trauma.”
“We’re here celebrating our 41st wedding anniversary!"
“I want a new job, but what I really want is a black Chevy Tahoe.”
“I left my husband after 23 years of marriage, and now he’s turning our children against me.”
“I just love the Lord and want him to use me as a vessel of grace.”
And while not a prayer request...
“Do you know where I can find a boutique?”
This from a woman wearing sparkly cowgirl boots, biking shorts, and a sweatshirt that read “Howdy” in big letters across the front. (In fact, I did know where she could find a boutique. But I hope she continued to sport that awesome outfit for the rest of the day.)
I didn’t walk away with any great spiritual insights — just an appreciation for our common humanity and gratitude for the privilege of sharing in people’s joys and struggles through a word of prayer.
I was also grateful for a few good laughs. Perhaps I should give the last one to a lady who got a kick out of my sign, which read, “Ask me for a blessing. God knows you need it.”
Her response: “Ain’t that the truth!”