It’s St. Patrick’s Day!
Throughout history different cultures, denominations, and worshipping communities have given gifts to the entire body of Christ through their particular language, music, and tradition.
The Celtic tradition has a deep relationship with the ritual and language of blessing which has become a gift to us all as a way to care for one another and engage with God.
Below are excerpts from the book “To Bless The Space Between Us” by the Jesuit priest and poet John O’Donohue. In this time when the space between us must increase, let us fill that space with words of blessing until we can once again lay hands on the community and the traditions we hold dear.
Savor these wise words in the sunshine offered today and then perhaps pick up a pen and send a blessing to someone you love.
What is Blessing – excerpts from the introduction
“It would be infinitely lonely to live in a world without blessing. The word blessing evokes a sense of warmth and protection; it suggests that no life is alone or unreachable. Each life is clothes in raiment of spirit that secretly links it to everything else. Though suffering and chaos befall us, they can never extinguish the inner light of providence.
A blessing is a circle of light drawn around a person to protect, heal, and strengthen.
A blessing evokes a privileged intimacy. It touches that tender membrane where the human heart cries out to its divine source. In the loneliness of one’s life, there are times when blessing is nearer to us than any other person or thing. A blessing is not a sentiment or a question; it is a gracious invitation where the human heart pleads with the divine heart.
A blessing can be like the discovery of a fresh well. I believe each of us can bless. When a blessing is invoked it changes the atmosphere. In the light and reverence of blessing, a person or situation becomes illuminated in a completely new way. In a dead wall a widow opens, in dense darkness a path starts to glimmer, and into a broken heart healing falls like morning dew.
A blessing is not a poem. A blessing is different from a greeting. It opens up a different door in the human encounter with God and with one another.
The language of blessing is invocation, a calling forth. This is why the world may is used. The word may is the spring through which the Holy Spirit is invoked to surge into presence and effect. The Holy Spirit is the subtle presence behind every blessing.
May we all receive blessing upon blessing. And may we realize our power to bless, heal, and renew one another. “
O’Donohue’s book is full of blessing for life’s beginnings, endings, all the in between times. Here are a few lines from some of his blessings that may be appropriate for our time. Go out (or rather stay in) and bless!
For The Interim Time
You are in the time of the interim
Where everything seems withheld.
The path you took to get here has washed out
The way forward is still concealed.
You cannot lay claim to anything.
As far as you can may you hold your confidence.
Do not allow confusion to squander
This call which is loosening
Roots in false ground,
That you may come free
From all you have outgrown.
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn that God is eternally bestowing.
When the light lessens
And your eyes fix on the empty distance
When the music of talk
Slows to leaden echoes
When the old ghosts come back
To feed on everywhere you felt sure
Do not strengthen their hunger by choosing fear.
May you allow your loneliness time to dissolve the false walls you have built around you.
Choose in the severe silence to hear the one true voice your rushed life fears.
May you gradually come to know the divine light and love that cradles you.
May you begin to trust what emerges as you gradually come to see yourself with the same delight and expectation with God sees you at every moment.
For Presence (for those whose household is filling a little too full and chaotic)
We seldom notice how each day is a holy place where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments into an eternal continuity that keeps us.
Somewhere in us a dignity presides, poured into us at our baptism
That is more gracious that the smallness that fuels us with fear.
No one knew the name of this day as it was born quietly from deepest night
But it is offered out to each of us by the maker of all days.
A field of brightness providing time and ground to hold our footsteps.
As we wander into the secret gift of today.
May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
May anxiety never linger about you.
Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles of today that seek no attention.
May the God who breathed wholeness guide you to discover the symmetry of your soul so that you may experience the sacred gift of this day no matter what it brings.
Other short phrases of blessing
- May your prayer of listening deepen enough to hear in the depths the laughter of God…
- May you embrace the beauty in what you do and never doubt the gifts you bring….
- May you have the courage to take the step into the unknown that is beckoning…
- May you know the urgency with which God longs for you…
- May the shape of your living be equal to the grandeur and call of your soul….
- May you be blessed with good friends and learn to be a good friend to yourself….
- May you have the courage to follow the call of your life’s path…
- May you find harmony between your soul and your life….
- May you never place a wall between your light and yourself….
- May you not disrespect the beauty of your soul through brittle words or false belonging…
- May you have the courage to speak for the excluded ones…
- May all that is unforgiven in you be released…
- May all that is unlived in you blossom into passion and action….