Father Theophan: Blessings

Father Theophan recently blessing Los Alamos Police Department vehicles. Courtesy/Father Theophan

By Father Theophan
Saint Job of Pochaiv Orthodox Church
Los Alamos

Everybody on my Christmas list last year got a mug. They are my favorite thing to make, and I can make a bunch of them in a day, especially if the weather is dry. They dry quickly and I can get the handles attached the same afternoon. In a couple more dry days, I can bisque fire them, then glaze and glaze fire them. In the course of a week it goes from raw clay to a coffee mug that might be used daily.

At least I hope they get used daily.

More than the ease of their creation, a mug is intimate. Most people enjoy their morning coffee or tea daily, and it’s an honor to be part of that ritual.

I feel connected to the people who use my pots, and I hope that they feel a connection to me. 

This coming Monday is the commemoration of the Prophet Elijah (or Elias) who makes his appearance in the Old Testament, and a cameo in the New Testament. He is one of the major prophets who successfully challenges the pagan gods of the time.

Elijah is one of the very few people in the Bible that don’t actually die. Elijah is taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot. This is witnessed by his protégé Elisha, to whom he literally passed his mantle as he was departing.

Since Elijah was taken in a chariot, we take the opportunity to bless vehicles. I’m sure it started with blessing chariots and wagons, but now we bless cars, trucks, motorcycles, and the occasional airplane.

In years past, I have blessed the Los Alamos Police Department cruisers.

Blessing things, like cars or houses or flowers, is not magic. It doesn’t keep the drivers safer or the cars running more smoothly. An Orthodox blessing is not a religious insurance policy or extended warrantee.

Blessings are reminders, mental and spiritual connections, to the divine. Cars, and other things, are blessed so that when we use them, we are reminded of our goal and purpose, and connection. The blessed objects are to be used for our growth, and health, and ultimate salvation.

If we are going to grow and develop into the people we are supposed to be, kinder, wiser, more mature, then reminders are important. Daily interaction and good habits are essential. Whether that is a reminder of God’s presence, which is what blessings are in essence, or your personal mantra or a philosophy that you find helpful, keep these things in front of you. 

If you have one of my mugs, keep that in front of you, too. I’m glad you have one. Someone is praying for you.

One of Father Theophan’s handmade mugs. Photo by Father Theophan