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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Achoo (04/11/13)

TITLE: Vain Repetitions . . .
By Judith Gayle Smith
04/14/13


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“Kerchoo.” “Gesundheit.”

Pardon me while I noisily blow my reddened nose and crankily ponder the many unseen blessings tossed my way.

Do you polite folks realize routinely saying “bless you” or even “God bless you” when someone lets loose, be it a ticklish mild or virulently violent explosive blow, is the off-hand prayer of the lazy Christian?

Why? What exactly do we want Him to bless? “God bless you” is a legitimate albeit generic mini-prayer, voiced loudly in the general direction of the unfortunate soul sneezing zillions of particles of his wet fleshy beingness into our air.

“Kachoo.” “God bless you.”

Old wives’ tales ominously warn of plagues, heart stoppages and the soul forcefully leaving the body. Does our automatically generated “bless you” keep these devastating horrors at bay? Are we truly cognizant of what is actually occurring during a sneeze?

Whoa. Don’t all clamor at once. I am not being a Scrooge, nor a Snidely Whiplash when it concerns the unknown quality of a blessing tossed automatically, most often thoughtlessly, just because there is an “achoo” to be heard. Are we petitioning God to restore the most unfortunate sneezer’s soul, it having been expelled through his nostrils against his will, back to his body?

Maybe it’s just a lazy habit gone badly, possibly lack of critical thinking - my husband cantankerously volunteering his theory. Is the immediacy of the response mere superstition? For example “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back”. How superstitious are we? I can well imagine that most of you, soberly reading this, still cringe, gingerly stepping over the most minute sidewalk cracks.

I am not postulating the erstwhile joys of sneeze responding. But we must realize that our wonderful Creator God does hearken to our prayers, even automatic prayers uttered in habitual response to coughs that sound like sneezes.

“Achoo.” “Bless you.”

I, unfortunately, drive my poor husband nuts, constantly “blessing” him while he chronically, miserably and noisily coughs - multiple times. My sister joins in the chorus of “God bless you Mike”. When justifiably annoyed he says “it’s just a cough”, we cheerfully tell him that he needs the blessing anyway. And woe be to us if we miss any of his sneezes.

I have a dear outrageous friend who exquisitely, daintily “szzzzzttz’s”, an almost unrecognizable and incomprehensible human sound. When I confronted her about it, she claimed “that’s how an angel sneezes”. Her name is Angel - nuff said.

My sister actually explosively coughs as she sneezes. She scares the life out of me. Good time for you, dear reader – to bless me. So piercing, so painful to the ears, I am immediately prepared to do battle – “God bless you Barbi” said through gritted teeth.

“Wachoo.” “God bless.”

My maternal grandmother was plagued with multiple sneezes. I once counted seven “achoos” in a row, followed by twenty-eight assorted “bless you” offerings tossed to her while she fumbled for her dainty, inadequate pretty lace handkerchief. I have no idea how she breathed through those miserable wet episodes, much less had the strength to thank everyone for their blessings.

Unfortunately, I am not exempt. I find my own nasty spastic wet sneezes extremely annoying. And then I too must be sweetly thanking kindly folks for all their blessings as I fumble for a paper towel to soak up the unpleasant liquidity with which I bathed myself. Oops. My sister just sneezed as I typed this. I automatically, offhandedly threw her a thoughtless blessing.

Shame on me, I myself am doubtless a creature of myriad habits, far too many bad and not enough good. How can I pompously dictate just how and why a blessing is automatically generated when I do the very same thing without thinking? I hope I don’t trip over that humongous beam stuck in my eye.

KJV Matthew 6:7 "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking."

“Pray without ceasing” may be an equitable justification for our reaction to sneezing. But pray, just add a little thought and say “may God bless you with His perfect Will for your life”, most sincerely, with hearts full of love for Him and for the beleaguered unfortunate sneezer.

Since writing this, I am so self-conscious when someone sneezes – I truly want God to bless the sneezer.

Thank You Father, for putting this in my heart to honor – nay, BLESS You.


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This article has been read 377 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/18/13
I enjoyed this from the gross descriptions that were divine and had me picturing snot flying through the air and landing on...well everything to the message that you expertly wove throughout your story. You have a delightful sense of humor and a message we all need to be reminded of from time to time.
lynn gipson 04/19/13
I enjoyed this. Your humor tickled my funny bone. Great entry!
Christina Banks 04/19/13
Great thought given with humor and a smile. I absolutely loved when you wrote "the unfortunate soul sneezing zillions of particles of his wet fleshy beingness into our air." Thank you for the lesson and the grin.
Alicia Renkema04/21/13
This is such a great example of the candid honesty your typically show in your writing directed at the reader. You have a sensational "narrator's voice that really makes the reader (in this case me) feel like you are right in their living room with them. I really liked this piece because of your honesty about your observations concerning others and then your humility that you do the same thing, pray that lackadaisical prayer of "Bless you" just because it is the thing to do. Perfect entry for the topic. You will have me being self-concious now too, but that is a good thing... Bless you my friend and may you see and hear His voice so that upon doing so it may truly bless your life. That is my application to your piece.
Cheryl Harrison 04/22/13
I enjoyed your devotional. Clever take on the topic. God Bless You... and I mean it! :o)
Christina Banks 04/25/13
Congratulations on finishing third in your level!
Alicia Renkema04/25/13
Judith, I sniffed a "winner" when I read this very well crafted be-careful-how-you-bless piece. Lots of good wisdom and very humorous as so many of your writings are. Congrats girl! This was a joy to read.
Beth LaBuff 04/25/13
You made me think and you made me smile. :) The angel sneeze was great. Super congrats on your ribbon!
lynn gipson 04/25/13
CONGRATULATIONS!On your ribbon, well deserved!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/26/13
Congratulations on ranking 3 in your level and 31 overall! (The highest rankings can be found on the message boards)
Alicia Renkema04/26/13
Congratulations girl, I just now saw that in addition to getting 3rd place in your level, you also got awarded 31 over all! That is super. May you bask in the joy of our Lord!
Kim Norton04/26/13
Great piece! Congrats!!