Pentecost: What the Fire Gives

May 17, 2015

What the Fire GivesImage: What the Fire Gives © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Book of Acts, Day of Pentecost: Acts 2.1-21

And how is it that we hear, each of us,
in our own native language?
– Acts 2.8

We buried Gary’s ashes near the end of April. Two days after what should have been our fifth anniversary, I gathered on the family farm with our parents, our brothers and their wives, and Gary’s son. The last time we had all been at the farm together was for the wedding, which seemed both astonishingly recent and also an eternity ago. With my brother’s help, I had picked a spot for the ashes down by the lake, tucked in a stand of palmetto trees that appears in some of our wedding photos.

After we all made our way to that place by the lake, I looked around the circle at each face. Dearly beloved, I said. I told them of how, as Gary and I had planned for our wedding, the word blessing kept coming to mind. We decided it should be a day of blessing, and so blessings wove through the ceremony and the celebration that followed—blessings that were spoken, and blessings that were embodied in the people who had come to be with us that day.

I told our family how, as I had prepared for the day of burying the ashes of our beloved, the word blessing had come to mind once again. And so, in that place of letting go, there were blessings offered and received, spoken and unspoken as we placed my husband’s ashes in that sacred ground.

As Pentecost Day approaches, I have been remembering those blessings that came in the presence of ashes. There is such a finality to ashes—ashes to ashes, dust to dust, after all. Yet Pentecost arrives to remind us that ashes do not have the final word, and that fire does not come only to consume. It comes also to bless, to call, to inspire, to give to us what we could never begin to imagine on our own.

The fire of Pentecost scalds us toward speech, and this is a blessing and a miracle. This is not, however, where the greatest miracle lies. The miracle of Pentecost, as my seminary professor Dr. Bill Mallard told us one day, is not a miracle of speaking. It is a miracle of hearing, and of understanding.

How will we allow the Spirit to scorch us, not only toward the word we need to speak, but also toward the word we need to hear? How will we open ourselves to the Spirit that comes to set us ablaze with vision?

What the Fire Gives
A Blessing for Pentecost Day

You had thought that fire
only consumed,
only devoured,
only took for itself,
leaving merely ash
and memory
of something
you had thought,
if not permanent,
would be long enough,
enduring enough,
to be nearly
eternal.

So when you felt
the scorch on your lips,
the searing in your heart,
you could not
at first believe
that flame could be
so generous,
that when it came to you —
you, in your sackcloth
and sorrow —
it did not come
to consume,
to take still more
than everything.

What surprised you most
were not the syllables
that spilled from
your scalded,
astonished mouth —
though that was miracle
enough,
to have words
burn through
what had been numb,
to find your tongue
aflame with a language
you did not know
you knew —

no, what came
as greatest gift
was to be so heard
in the place
of your deepest
silence,
to be so seen
within the blazing,
to be met
with such completeness
by what the fire
gives.

– Jan Richardson


For previous reflections, blessings, and art for Pentecost, click the images or titles below:


Pentecost: This Grace That Scorches Us


Tongues as of Fire

Pentecost: When We Breathe Together


The Origin of Fire
Pentecost: The Origin of Fire


Pentecost
Pentecost: One Searing Word


Fire and Breath

Pentecost: Fire and Breath

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “What the Fire Gives,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (This is also available as an art print. After clicking over to the image’s page on the Jan Richardson Images site, just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section.) Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Ash Wednesday: The Terrible, Marvelous Dust

February 13, 2015

Ash Wedesday CrossImage: Ash Wednesday Cross © Jan Richardson

Readings for Ash Wednesday: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17;
2 Corinthians 5:20b – 6:10
; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Let me hear joy and gladness.
–Psalm 51.8

It is a strange anointing, this cross that comes to mark us as Lent begins. Ashes, dust, dirt: the stuff we walk upon, that we sweep away, that we work to get rid of, now comes to remind us who we are, where we are from, where we are bound.

How terrible. And how marvelous, that God should feel so tender toward the dust as to create us from it, and return us to it, breathing through us all the while. Even after releasing us from the blessed dust at the last, God continues to breathe us toward whatever it is we are becoming.

Ash Wednesday hits close to home once again. My husband’s ashes remain in the keeping of my brother, waiting in a beautiful wooden box that Scott has built for them. This spring we will bury the ashes on the family farm where Gary and I were married not so long ago. And we will breathe, and we will bless the earth from which we have come, and we will give thanks for the astonishing gift that passed too briefly among us but whose love, tenacious as ever, goes with us still.

This is a blessing I wrote for Ash Wednesday a couple of years ago and want to share with you as the day approaches again. I would also love to share the coming season with you on the new online retreat I’m offering for Lent. If you haven’t already signed up for the Beloved Lenten Retreat, you’ll find info about it below.

Blessing the Dust
A Blessing for Ash Wednesday

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
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
as insubstantial—

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
is made,
and the stars that blaze
in our bones,
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.

–Jan Richardson

Previous posts: I have a number of reflections and blessings for Ash Wednesday; to visit these, begin with last year’s post at Ash Wednesday: The Hands that Hold the Ashes.

For a broken heart: If Valentine’s Day is a difficult day for you or someone you know, I invite you to visit A Blessing for the Brokenhearted.

An invitation into Lent…

During Lent, my creative energies will be going toward a new online retreat that I’ll be offering for the season. I would love to share this journey with you! Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, the retreat is designed as a space of elegant simplicity that you can enter from wherever you are, in the way that works best for you. You don’t need to show up at a particular place or time in order to join in the retreat.

I sometimes hear from folks who say, “I’d love to do this, but I don’t have time for a retreat!” I completely get that! So I have especially designed this retreat so that you can engage as much or as little as you wish. Rather than being one more thing to add to your Lenten schedule, this retreat weaves easily and simply through your days.

For more info and to register, please visit our overview page at Online Lenten Retreat. In addition to the individual rate, we have group rates available for those who want to share the retreat together near or far. You can even give the Lenten retreat as a gift! If you have questions about the retreat, or concerns about things that you think might hinder you from sharing in the journey, be sure to check out our FAQ page (you’ll find a link on the overview page). The Beloved Retreat is new for 2015.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Ash Wednesday Cross,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (This is also available as an art print. After clicking over to the image’s page on the Jan Richardson Images site, just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section.) Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Transfiguration Sunday: Overshadowing

February 8, 2015

OvershadowingImage: Overshadowing © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Transfiguration Sunday, Year B: Mark 9.2-9

Then a cloud overshadowed them,
and from the cloud there came a voice.
–Mark 9.7

We’ve seen a few Transfiguration Sundays here at The Painted Prayerbook! Today’s artwork is new, created as I reflected on Mark’s use of the word overshadow (episkiazo in the Greek). I’m intrigued by how, in the gospels, the only other place we see this word appear is in Luke 1, when Gabriel tells a startled Mary that the power of God will overshadow her. [For more on this, and the invitation God extends to us to be a habitation for the holy, see this post: Transfiguration Sunday: Show and (Don’t) Tell.]

For blessings and other reflections for this final Sunday after Epiphany, I invite you to visit earlier reflections that I created for you. You can begin by visiting last year’s post for Transfiguration Sunday, which includes links to previous writings; I’ve included a link to that post below. Or you can simply enter “Transfiguration” into the search bar in the upper right corner of this page.

Thanks to everyone who’s registered for the online Lenten retreat! I am eagerly looking forward to sharing the season with you. If you haven’t signed up, I would love for you to join us. The info is below.

Blessings to you, and may the Spirit overshadow you and enfold you with peace.

A Lenten Journey…

Beloved Lenten Retreat

Beloved Retreat: Are you hungry for an experience that draws you into Lent without feeling like it’s just one more thing to add to your schedule? Join us for this online retreat that easily fits into the rhythm (or chaos!) of your days, offering you an elegantly simple space to reflect on your journey and receive sustenance for your path. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this retreat is a great way to travel toward Easter, from anywhere you are. New for 2015! Visit Online Lenten Retreat for details and registration. Individual, group, & congregational rates available.

For previous reflections on Transfiguration Sunday, click the image or title below.

Transfiguration II
Transfiguration Sunday: When Glory

For a broken heart: With Valentine’s Day coming up, I want to share a blessing that I wrote last year for the first Valentine’s Day after Gary’s death. If February 14 is a tough day for you or for someone you know, I invite you to visit “A Blessing for the Brokenhearted” by clicking the image or title below.

Valentine
A Blessing for the Brokenhearted

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Overshadowing,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (This is also available as an art print. After clicking over to the image’s page on the Jan Richardson Images site, just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section.) Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Epiphany 5: That All Be Made Well

February 1, 2015

For Joy
Image: For Joy © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany 5, Year B: Mark 1.29-39

He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up.
–Mark 1.31

People I love are hurting. So in light of this week’s passage from Mark’s Gospel, I wanted to write a blessing especially with them in mind—a blessing for healing, a big blessing, a blessing wide enough and deep enough to match their need.

What came was this: a blessing small enough to carry in the hand or in the heart. If you are in need, may this be for you a word in the wound, in the illness, in the ache. May you be made well.

And All Be Made Well
A Healing Blessing

That each ill
be released from you
and each sorrow
be shed from you
and each pain
be made comfort for you
and each wound
be made whole in you

that joy will
arise in you
and strength will
take hold of you
and hope will
take wing for you
and all be made well.

–Jan Richardson

For a previous reflection on this passage, visit The Domestic God.

Registration now open!

Beloved Lenten Retreat

Beloved Retreat: Are you hungry for an experience that draws you into Lent without feeling like it’s just one more thing to add to your schedule? Join us for this online retreat that easily fits into the rhythm (or chaos!) of your days, offering you an elegantly simple space to reflect on your journey and receive sustenance for your path. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this retreat is a great way to travel toward Easter, from anywhere you are. Visit Online Lenten Retreat for details and registration. Individual, group, & congregational rates available.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “For Joy,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (This is also available as an art print. After clicking over to the image’s page on the Jan Richardson Images site, just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section.) Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Epiphany 4: Blessing for a Whole Heart

January 25, 2015

In Every Chamber of the Heart
Image: In Every Chamber of the Heart © Jan Richardson

Readings for Epiphany 4, Year B:
Deuteronomy 18.15-20Psalm 111, 1 Corinthians 8.1-13, Mark 1.21-28

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.
–Psalm 111.1

For the past year and a half I have been carrying a small piece of art in my purse. The size of a playing card, it’s a collage created by my friend Priscilla. Within the collage is a single word, printed in her handwriting:

Wholehearted

When Priscilla gave me the collage six months before Gary’s death, she could hardly have imagined how much I would need it, and how soon. I continue to carry it as a reminder and a prayer—not simply that my heart will be mended, but that even in the shattering, I will know there is a hidden wholeness that has already taken hold. This wholeness is a mystery I catch only in glimpses. But when I look at Priscilla’s word, I see not only a plea but also a blessing, a declaration of something that, in God’s strange timing, has already come about, and that I hope to live into.

This week, the lectionary gives us these same kinds of glimpses. Each reading offers a window onto what it means to have a whole heart, to live in a way that recognizes that, broken though we may be, God sees us complete and is about the work of helping us live into that completeness, not just for ourselves but for and with one another. Deuteronomy’s injunction against any prophet whose heart turns toward false gods, the psalmist’s wholehearted cry of thanksgiving to the God who sends redemption, Paul’s words that call the church at Corinth to be mindful of how their individual choices have consequences for the health of the whole community, and Jesus’ healing of a man with an unclean spirit: each of these passages shows us something of the wholeness in which God created us, and is working out within us.

This week, how might it be to open your heart—no matter how broken—to the One who sees you whole?

Blessing for a Whole Heart

You think
if you could just
imagine it,
that would be a beginning;
that if you could envision
what it would look like,
that would be a step
toward a heart
made whole.

This blessing
is for when
you cannot imagine.
This is for when
it is difficult to dream
of what could lie beyond
the fracture, the rupture,
the cleaving through which
has come a life
you do not recognize
as your own.

When all that inhabits you
feels foreign,
your heart made strange
and beating a broken
and unfamiliar cadence,
let there come
a word of solace,
a voice that speaks
into the shattering,

reminding you
that who you are
is here,
every shard
somehow holding
the whole of you
that you cannot see
but is taking shape
even now,
piece joining to piece
in an ancient,
remembered rhythm

that bears you
not toward restoration,
not toward return—
as if you could somehow
become unchanged—
but steadily deeper
into the heart of the one
who has already dreamed you
complete.

– Jan Richardson

For previous reflections on this week’s gospel reading, visit these posts:

Epiphany 4: Blessing in the Chaos
Epiphany 4: In the Realm of the Spirits

Registration now open!

Beloved Lenten Retreat

Beloved Retreat: Are you hungry for an experience that draws you into Lent without feeling like it’s just one more thing to add to your schedule? Join us for this online retreat that easily fits into the rhythm (or chaos!) of your days, offering you an elegantly simple space to reflect on your journey and receive sustenance for your path. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this retreat is a great way to travel toward Easter, from anywhere you are. Click Online Lenten Retreat for details and registration. Individual, group, & congregational rates available.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “In Every Chamber of the Heart,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (This is also available as an art print. After clicking over to the image’s page on the Jan Richardson Images site, just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section.) Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Beloved: An Online Retreat for Lent 2015

January 23, 2015

Beloved Lenten Retreat
I am still savoring the amazing experience of traveling with everyone who participated in the Illuminated online retreat during Advent. Inspired by that journey, I am back in the studio, preparing an all-new retreat for Lent. I would love for you to join us! Here’s a glimpse of what this online retreat holds in store:
 


BELOVED
An Online Journey into Lent & Easter
February 18 – April 6
New for 2015!

This online retreat is not about adding one more thing to your schedule! It is about helping you find spaces for reflection that draw you deep into the mysteries and gifts of this season. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this retreat offers a space of elegant simplicity as you journey through Lent.

You can join in this all-new retreat from anywhere you are; you do not have to show up at a particular place or time. You’re welcome to engage the retreat as much or as little as you wish, in the way that fits you best. If you’re hungry for a simple way to move deeply into this season, this retreat is for you.

Individual, group, and congregational rates are available. You can also give the retreat as a gift! For retreat details, FAQs, and registration, visit Online Lenten Retreat.


 
The season of Lent invites us to know, most of all, how completely God loves us, and to let go of everything that would keep us from receiving and responding to that love. This invitation is at the heart of the Beloved Lenten Retreat. If that sounds good to you, please join us!

Blessings to you as Lent draws near.

Epiphany 3: Jonah’s Blessing

January 18, 2015

Jonah's BlessingImage: Jonah’s Blessing © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Hebrew Scriptures for Epiphany 3: Jonah 3.1-5, 10

So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh,
according to the word of the Lord.

–Jonah 3.3

To appreciate what a marvel it is that Jonah finally goes to Nineveh, and to understand what it took to get him there, it is crucial to know what happens prior to this passage. This is one of just two readings the Revised Common Lectionary gives us from the book of Jonah, completely missing the gorgeous prayer of Jonah in chapter 2, so this is a great chance to revisit Jonah if it’s been a while since you’ve read this petite but powerful book. Important, too, to know what comes after this passage—that Jonah does not come away feeling warm and cozy about God, who stirs Jonah’s anger not by being less merciful toward Nineveh than Jonah imagined, but more.

Plus, reading the book of Jonah in its concise entirety invites us to contemplate just what sort of God we follow, who in a time of peril would send provision in the form of a great fish, and who stuns us by being more full of grace than we ever imagined.

In what strange quarter might you find refuge this week? How will you keep your eyes open for the God who is bent on drenching us with mercy in unaccountable measure?

Jonah’s Blessing

It comes as small surprise
that you would turn your back
on this blessing,
that you would run
far from the direction
in which it calls,
that you would try
to put an ocean
between yourself
and what it asks.

Something in you knows
this blessing could
swallow you whole
no matter which way
you turn.

Hard to believe, then,
that every line of this blessing
swims in grace—
grace that, in the end,
even you
will find hard to fathom
so swiftly does it come
and with such completeness,
encompassing all
it finds.

What to do, then,
with such a blessing
that depends so little
on us
and yet asks of us
everything?

What to do
with a blessing
that comes with
such strange provision,
every inch of it
looking like something
that will draw us
into our dying?

Trust me when I say
all it wants
is for you
to fall in,
to let yourself
find yourself
engulfed within
the curious refuge
that it holds

and then to go
in the direction
it propels you,
following its flow
that will bear you
where you desired not
where you dreamed not
yet none but you
could land.

– Jan Richardson

Blessing of Song: For a bonus blessing, I want to share Gary’s marvelous song “Jonah’s Prayer.” You can listen by clicking the arrow on the audio player below. [For my email subscribers: if you don’t see the audio player, click here to go to The Painted Prayerbook site, where you can view the player in this post.] The song is © Garrison Doles from his CD House of Prayer.


For my reflections on this week’s gospel lection, begin by clicking the image or title below.

Casting
Epiphany 3: Blessing the Nets

Registration now open!

Beloved Lenten Retreat

Beloved Retreat: Are you hungry for an experience that draws you into Lent without feeling like it’s just one more thing to add to your schedule? Join us for this online retreat that easily fits into the rhythm (or chaos!) of your days, offering you an elegantly simple space to reflect on your journey and receive sustenance for your path. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this retreat is a great way to travel toward Easter, from anywhere you are. Click Online Lenten Retreat for details and registration. Individual, group, & congregational rates available.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Jonah’s Blessing,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (This is also available as an art print. After clicking over to the image’s page on the Jan Richardson Images site, just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section.) Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Epiphany 2: Known

January 12, 2015

You Have Known MeImage: You Have Known Me © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Psalms for Epiphany 2: Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
– Psalm 139.1

Over the past year, I have been thinking a lot about knowing. Gary’s death left enormous holes in so much of what I had known—about my life, about God, about who I am in this world. As I reckon with the rending of my known world, I am living with a constellation of questions such as these:

Who am I, when the person who has known me best is no longer in this world?

What does it mean to know and be known by someone who now belongs to eternity?

In the midst of my grief, how do I lean into the love of the God who holds us both and knows us beyond the limits of time?

Where does this knowing lead me and call me in this time, this life?

I don’t have many answers for these questions, but as we travel with the readings this week—all of which have to do, in some way, with being known—I have this blessing, offered in the hope that we will never cease to reckon with the challenge, the comfort, and the call of knowing and being known.

Peace to you.

Known
A Blessing

First
we will need grace.

Then
we will need courage.

Also
we will need
some strength.

We will need
to die a little
to what we have
always thought,
what we have allowed
ourselves to see
of ourselves,
what we have built
our beliefs upon.

We will need this
and more.

Then
we will need
to let it all go
to leave room enough
for the astonishment
that will come
should we be given
a glimpse
of what the Holy One sees
in seeing us,
knows
in knowing us,
intricate
and unhidden

no part of us
foreign
no piece of us
fashioned from other
than love

desired
discerned
beheld entirely
all our days.

– Jan Richardson

For previous reflections for Epiphany 2, click the images or titles below.

How Did You Come to Know Me?
Epiphany 2: How Did You Come to Know Me?


Between Heaven and Earth

Of Fig Trees and Angels

Coming soon!

Beloved Lenten Retreat

Beloved Retreat: Advent and Christmas are barely past, but Lent begins soon! I am looking forward to offering an all-new retreat for the season, and I would love for you to join us. Intertwining reflection, art, and music, the Beloved Retreat is a great way to journey toward Easter from anywhere you are, in the way that fits you best. Registration and more info coming this week. Individual, group, & congregational rates available.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “You Have Known Me,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (This is also available as an art print. After clicking over to the image’s page on the Jan Richardson Images site, just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section.) Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Baptism of Jesus: Beginning with Beloved

January 6, 2015

Blessing the BaptismImage: Blessing the Baptism © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany 1/Baptism of Jesus: Mark 1.4-11

And just as he was coming up out of the water,
he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending
like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my Son, the Beloved.”
–Mark 1.10-11

Beginning with Beloved
A Blessing

Begin here:

Beloved.

Is there any other word
needs saying,
any other blessing
could compare
with this name,
this knowing?

Beloved.

Comes like a mercy
to the ear that has never
heard it.
Comes like a river
to the body that has never
seen such grace.

Beloved.

Comes holy
to the heart
aching to be new.
Comes healing
to the soul
wanting to begin
again.

Beloved.

Keep saying it
and though it may
sound strange at first,
watch how it becomes
part of you,
how it becomes you,
as if you never
could have known yourself
anything else,
as if you could ever
have been other
than this:

Beloved.

–Jan Richardson

P.S. I have a number of previous reflections on the Baptism of Jesus; for links, visit this post: Baptism of Jesus: Washed.

A Gift for You…

Wise Women Also Came

Celebrating Women’s Christmas: Originating in Ireland, Women’s Christmas is celebrated on Epiphany (January 6) as an occasion to take a break at the end of the holidays. I’ve created a new retreat as a gift especially for you to use on Women’s Christmas—or whenever you’re in need of some time to reflect and rest. The retreat is available to download as a PDF at no cost. You can find the retreat by visiting this post on my Sanctuary of Women blog:

Women’s Christmas 2015: Illuminating the Threshold


Using Jan’s artwork…

To use the image “Blessing the Baptism,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (This is also available as an art print. After clicking over to the image’s page on the Jan Richardson Images site, just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section.) Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Women’s Christmas 2015 – A Gift for You

January 2, 2015

Wise Women Also CameImage: Wise Women Also Came © Jan L. Richardson

Happy New Year and Merry (almost) Epiphany! In celebration, these three wise women are stopping by with a gift for you. You might know that some folks celebrate Epiphany (January 6) as Women’s Christmas. Originating in Ireland, where it is known as Nollaig na mBan, Women’s Christmas began as a day when the women set aside time to enjoy a break and celebrate together at the end of the holidays.

It’s become a tradition for me to create a new retreat each year that you can use on Women’s Christmas or whenever you need a space of respite and reflection. The retreat, which you can download as a PDF, offers readings, art, and blessings that invite you to listen to your life. This year’s retreat explores the theme of thresholds, those betwixt and between places that emerge when we have left what was familiar but have not arrived at what lies ahead. Sometimes chaotic but full of possibility, thresholds are a great place to pray, imagine, and dream. The retreat is designed to help you do this.

There’s no cost for the retreat; it’s a Women’s Christmas gift especially for you! You can do the retreat alone or share it with friends. For a link to the retreat and more about Women’s Christmas, visit this page at my Sanctuary of Women blog:

Women’s Christmas: Illuminating the Threshold

I’d love for you to pass along the gift by sharing the link with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, or any other way you’re connected.

Blessings to you as the new year begins, and Merry Women’s Christmas!

P.S. Our festive Advent discount on annual subscriptions to the Jan Richardson Images site continues through Epiphany/January 6! An annual subscription enables you to download any images for use in worship during the year. Advent rate: $125 (regularly $165). Visit Subscribe to Jan Richardson Images.

[To use the Wise Women Also Came image, please visit this page at Jan Richardson Images.]