Monday, April 23, 2007

"Grant to this home the grace of Your presence"

I was a new homeowner in May 1994 when good friend and then-rector of All Saints' Atlanta, Harry Pritchett, celebrated a house-blessing (technically - er, liturgically - called "Celebration for a Home") for Kate and me at our little house on Strathmore. It was a joyous event, with lots of family and friends following Harry through the various rooms of the house for the blessing and prayers.

The very last thing I did when I left the house for good in December was to remove the silver cross that Harry had nailed over the door all those years ago.

Tonight, in a very different place and under very different circumstances, Harry blessed my tiny Spanish Harlem apartment.

He blessed the entrance ("welcome her upon her return"), the "library" (ha! 3 bookcases taking up one corner of the room - "Teach us, O Lord, where wisdom is to be found"), the bedroom ("Guide us waking and guard us sleeping"), the bathroom (yes, the bathroom: "Give us proper respect and reverence for our bodies"), the kitchen ("Bless the hands that work in this place"), and the living room ("How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity"). Four of those "rooms" are really within one room; we deemed the place well-blessed.

And after each room had been blessed, he took the cross that I'd brought from Atlanta and nailed it over the doorway.

Then we went to a great little bistro across from St. John the Divine (Harry was Dean of the Cathedral a few years back) and continued the celebration with good food and lovely wine.

Blessed, indeed!


Liz Hinds said...

That is a beautiful thing to have done. How lovely.

May you and your home - not forgetting Bailey - be thoroughly blessed in the years to come.

Elsie said...

Oh, Mary, I'm sitting here crying like a baby. Your post and your friends are simply wonderful. When I was a small girl, just five years old, we moved into a new house. My beloved grandfather, an Episcopal priest, came and blessed every room in our new home. I'd almost forgotten all about it, until I read your post. Sad to say, I've never had any of my homes blessed, nor has anyone else I know -- until you. With grandfather no longer living, I'd forgotten all about it. I'm going to have to see about rectifying this situation soon.

God bless you, Bailey, and all who share your life and enter your home. Love to you.

MaryB said...

I knew you two would appreciate the liturgy of the home blessing. And Bailey was not forgotten. As Dean of the Cathedral, Harry presided over what is probably the most famous annual Blessing of the Animals in the US(everything from amoebas to elephants), so Bailey was included in the house blessing, as well. I highly recommend it! (It's in the Book of Occasional Services, not the regular Book of Common Prayer.)

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful ceremony, MaryB. I wish you much happiness in your new home.

Anonymous said...

Interesting tradition. Did Harry travel all the way from Hotlanta just to salvage the soul of your digs? Or maybe he is in NYNY now?

Anonymous said...

Mary, one of my greatest pleasures in being on-line again is reading your blog. It's fantastic! -Carey

MaryB said...

Tamar, thanks so much. Come see me, if you ever have a break in your travel/writing schedule.

Winston, Harry and his even-better half live in Atlanta now, but they love NYC so much that they have a time-share thing here, and come to the city often. And though he blessed the apartment, he had to exorcise the closets. . .

Carey, I'm glad you're online now, too. Such kind words!