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Blessings and Bears

May 6, 2007

Glynn Cardy


Blessing of the Teddy Bears


Blessed are the Teddy Bears and blessed are all who cuddle them.


Bears are an important part of many people’s childhood. They come to us furry and clean and after seemingly only a little time start to lose both. As they’re cuddled, carried, sucked, and cherished they lose their pristine appearance and gain love instead. Then, smothered in love, toast crumbs and honey, they become real.


I heard last week of a bear being given to an elderly woman nearing the end of her life who had always enjoyed pets in the house. In her final months she directed her love towards that bear, and received comfort in return. The bear became real.


‘How can you bless Teddy Bears?’ asked one reporter over the phone, ‘They’re not real.’


Words like ‘real’ are given substance by our experience rather than by rational scientific method. We decide what is real. I base my decision to bless on what brings forth life and love.


I have a blog called Lucky Bear. It is the title of a book by Joan Phillips. The luck of Lucky Bear is not due to circumstances but attitude. When bad things happen Lucky Bear uses them as stepping stones to the next adventure. He’s eternally optimistic.


I chose the name for my blog site because spirituality and religion are about attitude. Are we primarily bad, sinful creatures who need correction and rules, or are we magnificent creations whose imaginations and laughter are part of God? Is life scary, or wonderful? Is humour wicked, or holy? Is the jar half empty, or half full? We have a choice about which attitude, theology, and spirituality we want to follow.


I choose to believe in Teddy Bears because I have known and seen the love and joy they elicit.




Blessed too are the storytellers, like Joy, who remind us that reality is more than one-dimensional.


We live in a culture where we can create a photograph of something that never happened, and make reality TV shows that bear little resemblance to anybody’s reality. Truth is so evasive that some discourage us from even seeking it, telling us that the outward appearance is all there is.


One of my favourite books is The Man Whose Mother Was A Pirate by Margaret Mahy. On the man’s journey to the sea that he’d never seen he encounters a philosopher. “Go back little man,” the philosopher advises, “because the wonderful things are always less wonderful than you [think]… the sea is less warm, the joke less funny, the taste not as good as the smell.” The man whose mother was a pirate responds: “I must go.” And off he ran towards the sea.


He is true, not to his experience, but to the faint yearning of his heart. A yearning that grows stronger the closer he comes to fulfilling it. Truth, ‘the truth that sets us free’, is first believed in before it’s seen.


The vocation of storytellers is to stoke the fires of our imagination, as a stoker once fed the fires of an engine. It is in the imagination that dreams are developed. Imagination is the place where solutions beyond the realms of possibility are trialed. It is the place where love is believed in despite the lack of evidence.




Blessed, above all, are those who love unconditionally for they create a world without fear.


Teddy Bears, with their arms open wide, symbolize the power of unconditional love. They are ready to embrace you. They don’t mind whether you are happy or sad, rich or poor, pretty or plain, conventional or different, brainy or not. In their eyes you are a beautiful person whom they love.


At school, on television, in many homes and religions… the message is that you have to earn love. You have to prove yourself. You to have to do something, or be somebody, before you’re accepted. You have to behave in a certain way in order to belong.


Unconditional love, which I believe is the essence and heart of God, says ‘No’. Rather you are loved and cherished no matter who you are related to, what you do, look like, or achieve. You are loved. Full stop. And Teddy Bears symbolize that love.


The opposite of love is not hate but fear. When we haven’t experienced love we are frightened to make ourselves vulnerable. We are frightened to trust others, and therefore to love. We are frightened to risk opening ourselves, with our thoughts and feelings, to another. Only when we take the risk of responding to love will we develop the strength to overcome our fears.


The struggle to overcome fear and let unconditional love shape us is not just an individual matter. Whole communities, countries, and continents need to learn, risk, and experience the power of unconditional love and it let drive out fear and shape policies that are just, compassionate, and conciliatory.


Maybe we should send a big Teddy Bear to every government in the world, with an instruction manual about how to hug.




Blessed are Teddy Bears and all who cuddle them.

Blessed are the storytellers.

Blessed are those who love unconditionally for they create a world without fear.


May the blessings of our experience mingle with the wisdom of the ages to continually open our hearts to the wonder of God and gift of one another.

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