Blessing in the Chaos To all that is chaotic in you, let there come silence. Let there be a calming of the clamoring, a stilling of the voices that have laid their claim on you, that have made their home in you, that go with you even to the holy places but will not let you rest, will not let you hear your life with wholeness or feel the grace that fashioned you. Let what distracts you cease. Let what divides you cease. Let there come an end to what diminishes and demeans, and let depart all that keeps you in its cage. Let there be an opening into the quiet that lies beneath the chaos, where you find the peace you did not think possible and see what shimmers within the storm. —Jan Richardson https://paintedprayerbook.com/2012/01/24/epiphany-4-blessing-in-the-chaos/
A Blessing for Traveling in the Dark
if you can.
More slowly still.
this is no place
to break your neck
by crashing into
what you cannot see.
it is true:
have different tasks,
and if you
have arrived here unawares,
if you have come
or in pain,
this might be no place
you should dawdle.
I do not know
what these shadows
ask of you,
what they might hold
that means you good
It is not for me
whether you should linger
or you should leave.
But this is what
I can ask for you:
That in the darkness
there be a blessing.
That in the shadows
there be a welcome.
That in the night
you be encompassed
by the Love that knows
In Circle Of Grace: A Book Of Blessings For The Seasons
In this strange stretch of time, we take turns needing and giving solace. What we receive today we give tomorrow. May spirit guide us to pay attention to others’ need for solace and offer it; that we have the humility to accept solace when it is offered. It’s simple. “Shine your shoes. Fill your refrigerator. Water your plants. Make some soup.” Say thank you. And together we will survive.
That’s all this blessing knows how to do:
Shine your shoes.
Fill your refrigerator.
Water your plants.
Make some soup.
All the things
you cannot think
to do yourself
when the world has come apart,
when nothing will be normal again.
this blessing knows
precisely what you need,
It sees what will bring
the deepest solace
It senses what will offer
the kindest grace.
And so it will step
with such quietness
into the ordinary moments
where the absence
is the deepest.
It will enter
with such tenderness
into the hours where the sorrow
is most keen.
You do not even
have to ask.
Just leave it open—
your door, your heart,
in every aching moment it holds.
See what solace
spills through the gaps
your sorrow has torn.
See what comfort
comes to visit,
holding out its gifts
in each compassionate hand.
Jan Richardson in The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief
We try so hard, don’t we? When spiritual development becomes a passion we sometimes work at it to the point of exhaustion, excluding all spontaneity of spirit. That’s why I’m letting myself off the hook today, and invite you to join me if so moved.
In her book, In the Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Prayer and Reflection, Jan Richardson suggests with Thomas Moore that we let ourselves “get sleepy” once in a while, because it is in the latent spaces in-between when we let go, that spirit can then plant seeds that can germinate. Moore suggests that “…awareness, wisdom, and soulfulness do not arrive solely through perpetually vigilant consciousness.”
So today, let yourself off the hook and let spirit do her work.
May you grow sleepy
to find the gap where God lives.
May your soul find its waking
Jan Richardson In the Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Prayer and Reflection
Photo Credit Fish Hook: http://clipart-library.com/clipart/yikdE9EiE.htm
Photo Credit Person Floating: Esther Lui for NPR
“In navigating the changes, in wrestling with boredom, in confronting our restlessness, in learning to pay attention to what is before us rather than forever moving on to something or someplace that looks more appealing, we come to know regions of our souls that we could never enter otherwise.
Where do you find sources of stability?
What do you learn in committing to something—a place, a person, a way of life—over the long haul?”
In the Sanctuary of Women by Jan Richardson
When the well goes dry, listen.
Sit by it, your ear pressed to its rim.
Hear the empty and the hollow of it.
Let be. Let be.
When finally you hear your breath
echo back to you,
let this sound be your first prayer.
Where there is breath,
there is water somewhere.
In the Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Reflection & Prayer
May this blessing from Jan Richardson console us as we wrestle with so much these days.
Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. —Genesis 32:24
If this blessing were easy, anyone could claim it.
As it is, I am here to tell you that it will take some work.
This is the blessing that visits you
in the struggling,
in the wrestling,
in the striving.
This is the blessing that comes
after you have left everything behind,
after you have stepped out,
after you have crossed into that realm
beyond every landmark you have known.
This is the blessing that takes all night to find.
It’s not that this blessing is so difficult,
as if it were not filled with grace
or with the love that lives in every line.
It’s simply that it requires you to want it,
to ask for it, to place yourself in its path.
It demands that you stand to meet it when it arrives,
that you stretch yourself in ways
you didn’t know you could move,
that you agree to not give up.
So when this blessing comes,
borne in the hands of the difficult angel who has chosen you, do not let go. Give yourself into its grip.
It will wound you, but I tell you there will come a day
when what felt to you like limping
was something more like dancing
as you moved into the cadence
of your new and blessed name.
Jan Richardson in The Cure For Sorrow: A Book Of Blessings In Times Of Grief
The reflections of Jan Richardson always delight and enrich me. This piece I meditated on today seems particularly apt nourishment for us now.
Richardson reflects on Hildegard von Bingen’s work, Scivias, in which the mystic personifies virtues. “Longing stands next to Patience,” says Hildegard, and Richardson reflects, “Yes, and I am wedged in between them. How do Patience and Longing live together in you?”
A question for us to ponder as well.
“Longing stands next to Patience”
Longing would sometimes like to be assigned a different spot.
Would like to be less near this one who approaches everything with such equanimity. Would like some distance from the measured way that Patience marks time,
holds herself with such politeness toward its passing.
Patience knows this about Longing. Accepts it, even loves it about her.
This makes Longing crazy.
Patience has not told her she has some envy of Longing’s perfect ache
or that she thinks it must be an art to hold oneself
so perpetually poised toward the horizon.
For her part, Longing has not confessed that there are days
she finds Patience restful. Soothing. A relief.
Meanwhile, by little and by little,
so slowly its appearance will startle them both,
a horizon is drawing near.
May Longing and Patience teach you by turns:
not just the fire but the tending of it,
not just the well but the digging;
not just the vision but the enduring it asks,
by day and by darkness drawing us on.
In the Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Reflection and Prayer by Jan L. Richardson
Photo Credit: https://everydaypower.com/patience-quotes/
I come to you on my knees this early January morning huddled in a heap of conflicting emotions over the prospect of war between the United States and Iran.
Rough Translations by Jan Richardson
Hoping against hope, he believed.
Hope where we had ceased to hope.
Hope amid what threatens hope.
Hope with those who feed our hope.
Hope beyond what we had hoped.
Hope that draws us past our limits.
Hope that defies expectations.
Hope that questions what we have known.
Hope that makes a way where there is none.
Hope that takes us past our fear.
Hope that calls us into life.
Hope that holds us beyond death.
Hope that blesses those to come.
by Jan Richardson from Women’s Christmas Retreat
Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/lynn.schooler
I am grateful to Lynn Schooler for permission to use this exquisite photo experience of today’s dawn in Juneau Alaska. You have a rich experience awaiting you at his facebook page. Thank you, Lynn.
At the beginning of this season of Lent we are reminded by Matthew’s Jesus that “unless [we] change and become like little children, [we] will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mt 18:2
With little children what you see is what you get. They are open, trusting and straightforward. If there is a proverbial elephant in the room they will point it out and “call it by its true name.” (Thich Nhat Hanh). If we are called to emulate this quality then surely, now is an apt time to do it. We must get to the truth of our identity, know ourselves as flawed, but renewed and reclaimed in our flaws. We are changed.
Gandhi said that we should “be the change we want to see in the world.” By changing attitudes and behaviors that kill spirit to ones that give life to it, we become antidotes for the evil dominating our world. This Lent the enduring question for me will be, “What gives me life?”
Breathing in life
I celebrate life.
Breathing out negativity
I release its hold on me.
Breathing in life
I send it I to the world.
Breathing out negativity
I release its hold on the world.
May it be so. Amen.
Now this from Jan Richardson
Blessing the Dust
For Ash Wednesday
All those days
you felt like dust,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners
or swept away
by the smallest breath
did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.
This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.
This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.
So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
and the stars that blaze
in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons