Holy Thursday: Blessing You Cannot Turn Back

Holy Thursday IIImage: Holy Thursday II © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Holy/Maundy Thursday: John 13.1-17, 31b-35

Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet.
—John 13.5

Blessing You Cannot Turn Back
For Holy Thursday

As if you could
stop this blessing
from washing
over you.

As if you could
turn it back,
could return it
from your body
to the bowl,
from the bowl
to the pitcher,
from the pitcher
to the hand
that set this blessing
on its way.

As if you could
change the course
by which this blessing

As if you could
control how it
pours over you—

yet startling
in the way
it matches the need
you did not know
you had.

As if you could
become undrenched.

As if you could
resist gathering it up
in your two hands
and letting your body
follow the arc
this blessing makes.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace

Using Jan’s artwork…

To use the image “Holy Thursday II,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible.

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.

5 Responses to “Holy Thursday: Blessing You Cannot Turn Back”

  1. Bill Hobbs Says:


    Thank you for this beautiful prayer/reflection. Your words always speak to my heart and soul. Blessings to you during this holy Triduum.


  2. Anne Kern Says:

    thank you Jan, as always your words speak to my soul. I will carry them with me tomorrow in the busynesss of the work day till I land in the pew . deep peace be with you.

  3. Linda Goddard Says:

    Another of your lovely blessings, Dear Jan.
    It opens a way to enter Holy Thursday and give my whole self to this Holy Triduum.

    Blessings on your Holy week experience, dear woman

  4. Julia Says:

    So beautiful. May you also be blessed.

  5. Carolyn Nowlin Says:

    Jan’s ministry blesses me more than I can say (That’s why she’s the poet, and I’m not!). Someone said God gives us poets and philosophers to express what we feel (or sometimes don’t know we feel) but don’t know how to say. May your blessings return many fold to you!

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