Blessing in a Time of Violence

Holy Even in PainImage: Holy Even in Pain © Jan Richardson

For Beirut, for Kenya, for Paris, for Syria. For every place broken by violence and hatred. For every person in pain and grief. For you, from me, in sorrow and hope.

Blessing in a Time of Violence

Which is to say
this blessing
is always.

Which is to say
there is no place
this blessing
does not long
to cry out
in lament,
to weep its words
in sorrow,
to scream its lines
in sacred rage.

Which is to say
there is no day
this blessing ceases
to whisper
into the ear
of the dying,
the despairing,
the terrified.

Which is to say
there is no moment
this blessing refuses
to sing itself
into the heart
of the hated
and the hateful,
the victim
and the victimizer,
with every last
ounce of hope
it has.

Which is to say
there is none
that can stop it,
none that can
halt its course,
none that will
still its cadence,
none that will
delay its rising,
none that can keep it
from springing forth
from the mouths of us
who hope,
from the hands of us
who act,
from the hearts of us
who love,
from the feet of us
who will not cease
our stubborn, aching
marching, marching

until this blessing
has spoken
its final word,
until this blessing
has breathed
its benediction
in every place,
in every tongue:


— Jan Richardson

Using Jan’s artwork…

To use the image “Holy Even in Pain,” please visit this page at (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 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.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

33 Responses to “Blessing in a Time of Violence”

  1. Amy Nemecek Says:

    Amen. So be it. Thank you, Jan, for the solace of these words, this image. Blessings.

  2. Manuela Says:

    Beautiful poem, thank you. You may want to read this related blessing bY author Pierre Pradervand
    Excerpt from a blessing for terrorists by Pierre Pradervand
    “I bless them in their awareness that, deep down, they are children of the light, and that terrorist schemes are but an inversion of the light with no true cause, substance, or law behind them. I bless them in their understanding that the darkness they see or imagine can only be dispelled by light, not by more darkness.”

  3. Lynda Says:

    Thank you for this incredible poem and the deeply moving artwork. Our hearts are grieving for the world – the world that does not know the peace that we can know if we will open ourselves to God, the God who loves each human person. Love is the only way. May we all love more deeply. Blessings and gratitude for this post.

  4. Joseph Cecile Voelker Says:

    Thank you, thank you, Jan! We all need this. You’ve given us words.

  5. Cynthis Helton Says:

    I will hold this in my heart, closely and gently – then share it with the same compassion for all of us in which it was written. Thank you so much Jan, for putting words to feelings and opinions I’ve been unable to voice.

  6. Kellyann Says:

    Just what I needed–Just what the world needed! Thank you, Jan!

  7. Anna T Says:

    Thank you for these words… thank you, thank you!

    In them I feel reminded of grace’s true size and encouraged towards some of our world’s most powerful actions: kindness and hope.

  8. Ruth Atterberry Says:

    Thank you Jan, for these healing words. The blessing fills an empty place in my soul today.

  9. Rev. Jean Marchant Says:

    Dear Jan,
    My deepest thanks for your prayerful words…I am speechless in the face of such violence….and the word “Peace” brings hope and comfort.

    loving blessings,

  10. Ellen Says:

    Thank you for these lovely words of peace and hope, so beautifully expressed.

  11. Gabrielle Says:

    Beautiful. Thankyou

  12. fr.jose j. kaleekel Says:

    in solidarity with those persecuted and killed. it is pain and agony. yes it is. but violence is creation of the state and nations first. those in power. those lording it over others. may we learn to love and serve. may your blessing materialise. may love flower and spirit win over materialism. hold on dear and may we all vindicate.
    am presently in ireland . had to work with the presentation sisters international gathering. it went good. i return to india next week. thanks and blessings from jose.

  13. Sally Olson Says:

    Thank you, Jan for sharing words of hope and blessing. Peace to you, dear sister in Christ. Love and prayers, Sally

  14. Rosemary Grundy Says:

    Dear Jan,
    We are blessed to have your beautiful thoughts for our inspiration, reflection and joy. I can only imagine your pain during these past 2 years, and it seems that it has taken you deeper into your own spirit. During the global pain of these past days, I sent a message of support to a Muslim friend. He wrote back: It is through people of goodwill such as yourself that the world will continue to be worthwhile. We are a people of faith and believe the good shall inherit the earth. Hope for harmony is undaunted.

  15. Judy Atwater Says:

    Thank you for this beautiful sacred expression through paint and poetry.

  16. Amy Says:

    Thank you, Jan. Your words always seem to echo inside the chambers of my heart.

    I have missed your absence. I am excited for your book.

    Grace upon grace

  17. Jan Richardson Says:

    Friends, thank you so much for your powerful words and your beautiful hearts, for sharing in the ache and the hope. I am so grateful for you!

  18. Betsy Robinson Says:

    A friend read your poem at our Thanksgiving gathering.
    I thank you So Much!

  19. David Says:

    Hi Jan,
    I came across your poem and knew when I read it that I had to share it with my students. I am an 8th grade teacher at the Catherine Cook School in Chicago, and as part of our Martin Luther King, Jr. Assembly yesterday I had three students read your moving and heartfelt words. They did an amazing job. It was followed by another student beautifully playing “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Thank you so much for this moving piece that brought a sense of healing to the 600 students, teachers, administrators and parents who heard it. It truly was in keeping with Dr. King’s vision of the “beloved community.” God Bless you!

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      David, please accept my belated thanks for your wonderful comment! It meant so much to me to hear that several of your students read this blessing at your school’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Assembly in January. Thank you for this, and for taking the time to share your words with me. I am grateful. Many blessings to you and your students!

  20. Carol Kelley Says:

    Such an overwhelming blessing after Orlando.

  21. Tom Barnicott Says:

    I discovered your words today, in the immediate aftermath of the horror experienced in Nice, France and the recent shooting deaths of Sterling, Castile, and the Dallas police officers. Thank you for your deeply moving words. With your permission I would like to share them with my congregation this coming Sunday. Blessings of peace to you!

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Tom, thanks so much for your words! I’m very pleased for you to share the blessing with your congregation on Sunday. Many blessings to you, and to them.

  22. Jeff Davidson Says:

    Hello – I found this today as Tom did above (he’s further along in worship planning than I am, apparently!) Thank you for them and for your willingness to share them so freely. I will be using them at the Washington City Church of the Brethren in DC tomorrow. I am thinking of them in combination with a passage from John Chrysostom about God’s constant intercession on behalf of people against evil. Thank you again for sharing your talent with us.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Many kind thanks, Jeff! I’m very grateful for your words and to know that you would be using this in worship yesterday. Sending many blessings to you and the community of Washington City Church of the Brethren!

  23. Beth Fraser Says:

    Your poem was read today 7/17/16 at a church in Muskoka, Ontario. I’m so glad to have found your website to share it with others. Thank you.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Beth, thank you! It was so lovely to learn that this blessing was shared in Muskoka yesterday. Many blessings to you and your congregation!

  24. Marguerite Sheehan Says:

    Dear Jan, might I reprint your blessing in a time of violence in our church newsletter? We are in such a hard time, week by week, day by day, and your blessing is one great balm. I keep thinking about Queen Esther who was called forth “in such a time as this.” Thank you, Marguerite Sheehan, Shelburne Falls, MA

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Thanks so much for your beautiful comment, Marguerite! It’s wonderful to hear from you. Yes, I’d be very pleased for you to reprint this blessing in your church newsletter. All that’s needed is to include this info in a brief credit line:

      © Jan Richardson.

      Sending many blessings for you and your congregation. Deep peace to you.

  25. Lynn Hyder Says:

    Thank you for these beautiful words. I willl offer these words at a Praying for Peace service this Wednesday in Louisiana where I serve as a hospital chaplain. In the wake of the Dallas and Baton Rouge shootings, we have invited local law enforcement, fire and EMS to join us in prayer for peace.

  26. margaret Says:

    i too loved this poem. our minister chose it for our #metoo worship tomorrow morning. i will be reading it with all my heart

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