A week of Blessings

I just finished reading ‘The seven habits of highly effective people’ by Stephen Covey. Every year I try to read a classic book that’s on a ‘must read’ list or has been recommended by some accredited university or person with influence. Other people may read one a month, but I find these kind of books hard going. Especially this one as the author has a number of references to his faith and religious beliefs that provide him guidance in his way of living. I needed to take my time and absorb his meaning, to mull over my own ideas about the subject and then integrate them into my renewed understanding going forward. A quote from this book had me thinking, a lot:

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Teilhard de Chardin

That struck a chord with me, as I don’t consider myself a religious person, but some ‘spiritual experiences’ have been noted over the last week. Bermuda is very spiritual and has a church on nearly every corner, in fact I think I heard four hundred churches of all kinds of denominations for it’s sixty five thousand inhabitants. Imagine being from the Morman faith on your two years sabbatical, drawing the short straw that said ‘Bermuda’. They do look hot in those suits though.

In the weekend we went to the Blessing of the Boats at St David’s Island. This is done once a year at the dock near the Chapel of Ease. Isn’t that the loveliest name?! The Chapel was named as such because it gave an easy existence to those caught in weather who could not get across the Chanel into St George Island before the causeways and bridges were built. People back then were reliant on the sea conditions. Each year since 1847 the boats are brought into the Harbour and they are blessed with prayer and holy water by the Bishop for safe voyage. This serves two purposes, firstly to provide ultimate protection for the sailors, but also to make sure souls get to meet their deity safely. Sailors lost at sea did not get their full deserved funeral and burials, so really, the blessing covered this in advance, just in case. Seafaring communities have over the course of history been very superstitious and hence this tradition is still performed two centuries later.

The Blessing of the Boats by the Bishop, St David’s, Bermuda

So when we first arrived boats were starting to come into the Harbour, which is tiny – just enough room for three boats to dock. There’s a little shelter there where the Ferry used to pick up passengers, with 1936 painted on it and kept in very good repair. Some chairs were placed for people to sit, and the Salvation Army band arrived and set up. Sea scouts, gigs, the Harbour Pilot, and an array of other private boats came in to attend the service and then be blessed. The Bishop of Bermuda and the Rector of the Parish of St George in traditional robes took the service along with the Server who lead the Prayers, readings by the Assistant, and hymns accompanied by the Band. Then the boats came in one by one receiving their blessing by prayer, a splash of holy water, and an official certificate given via a fishing net lowered over for the captains to receive. Lastly, the official party boarded a transport boat which sailed them around the Harbour to make sure all the boats got included. It was a really lovely ceremony. My lovely Husband and I were very pleased our thoughtful friends told us about it, and included us. I have to admit I did spend a little time on the dock eyeing up the two bottles I could see over the side, and wondering if it was a bit deep…

Salvation Army Band setting up to accompany the Hymns

Today I received a message from my friends who are touring Rome, and having a fantastic time in the heat wave there. They had just been to see the Pope and received his divine blessing which included all their family and friends. So sitting up in bed in my Jim-jams I got to listen to the actual blessing via Facebook messenger. Isn’t that fantastic. Really interesting that it was this week though!

More soon – Sally


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