Image: Rise © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Pentecost +3, Year C: Luke 7.11-17

And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!”
– Luke 7.14b

Blessing for the Raising of the Dead

This blessing
does not claim
to raise the dead.

It is not so audacious
as that.

But be sure
it can come
and find you
if you think yourself
beyond all hope,
beyond all remedy;
if you have
laid your bones down
in your exhaustion
and grief,
willing yourself numb.

This blessing
knows its way
through death,
knows the paths
that weave
through decay
and dust.

And while this blessing
does not have the power
to raise you,
it knows how
to reach you.

It will come to you,
sit down
beside you,
look you
in the eye
and ask
if you want
to live.

It has no illusions.
This blessing knows
it is an awful grace
to be returned
to this world.

Just ask Lazarus,
or the Shunammite’s son.
Go to Nain
and ask the widow’s boy
whether he had
to think twice
about leaving the quiet,
the stillness;
whether he hesitated
just for a moment
before abandoning the place
where nothing could harm
or disturb.

Ask the risen
if it gave them pause
to choose this life—
not as one thrust into it
like a babe,
unknowing, unasking,
but this time
with intent,
with desire.

Ask them how it feels
to claim this living,
this waking;
to welcome the breath
in your lungs,
the blood
in your veins;
to gladly consent
to hold in your chest
the beating heart
of this broken
and dazzling world.

If you haven’t already visited our Art + Faith page on Facebook, please do! Gary and I would love for you to stop by, “like” the page, and be part of the creative conversation that’s unfolding there. And be sure to check out our upcoming Liturgical Arts Weeks at the wondrous Grünewald Guild.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Rise,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

Using Jan’s words…
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© Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com.

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6 Responses to “Rise”

  1. becky Says:

    Talk about the power of words – an amazing poem! A beautiful, engaging image.

    Have to share with you, Jan, that this morning I am up to the Old and the New in your book – reading about someone wondering why anyone would take the time to actually write the Saint John’s Bible, etc. And your relating to Matthew 13.
    I’m struggling with trying to learn lectio divina – know the steps, having trouble “getting it”. Today I opened my Daily Office book to the second Sunday after Pentecost to read through the lesson – and it is Matthew 13! Couldn’t believe it! One of those little serendipitous moments that make me laugh out loud!

  2. Leigh Hitchcock Says:

    Thank you Jan for such powerful words. I wonder if you are at all familiar with the musician, Carrie Newcomer. She has a wonderful song about Lazarus and what it was like after being raised from the dead and not quite knowing where to belong. It is on her Geography of Light album. Your blessing made me think of her song. I always enjoy your writing. Thanks for sharing your gifts.

  3. Sue Says:

    Your poem greeted me this morning after a rather restless sleep. Wondrous confirmation that what I know for sure is deep and pure, that I am always and ever held in the hands of the Beloved and I can choose this life with joy.

  4. Mary Ann Sinclair Says:

    It is comforting to know that this blessing can hunt you down and seep into weary grieving bones. It is I that must consciously rise up from the darkness of grief and let in the light. Some days it is an intentional movement forward like walking through the resistance of water. Some days it is as simple as sitting and watching the bird do the impossible– fly and sing their joyous songs trapped as their wings on air to carry the tune to my awaiting ears.

  5. Graham-Michoel Says:

    Not sure how I missed this one. Both the poem and the painting – very powerful. The painting lifts my heart!

  6. Hilary Campbell Says:

    Came across this blessing in my sermon preparation today. And because my mum died a few weeks ago and I am very consciously living with grief – the words felt particularly relevant. And knowing your living with grief also made them even more powerful. Thank you Jan.

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