Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Achoo (04/11/13)
TITLE: Vain Repetitions . . .
By Judith Gayle Smith
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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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