This Day We Say Grateful: A Sending Blessing

WhenFriendsRejoiceBothFarAndNearImage: When Friends Rejoice Both Far and Near © Jan Richardson

In this season, I often find myself thinking of friends in ministry who are on the move—who are leaving the communities they have known and are entering into new forms of ministry as they take new appointments, retire, or go on leave. I wrote a “sending blessing” for one of these friends, Dan Johnson, who recently retired after serving for 22 years as the senior pastor of my home church, Trinity United Methodist Church in Gainesville, Florida. The blessing was used to close Dan’s final service there. The church also gave the image above to Dan as a print, beautifully framed with another blessing of mine called “In the Leaving.”

As I continue to navigate my own thresholds in these days, I am so grateful for the chance to offer words and images for those who are finding and making new paths.

If you are in a threshold time, or know someone who is, this blessing is for you. Deep peace to you.

This Day We Say Grateful
A Sending Blessing

It is a strange thing
to be so bound
and so released
all in the same moment,
to feel the heart
open wide
and wider still
even as it turns
to take its leave.

On this day,
let us say
this is simply the way
love moves
in its ceaseless spiraling,
turning us toward
one another,
then sending us
into what waits for us
with arms open wide to us
in welcome
and in hope.

On this day,
in this place
where you have
poured yourself out,
where you have been
and filled
and emptied again,
may you be aware
more than ever
of what your heart
has opened to
what it has tended
and welcomed
where it has broken
in love and in grief,
where it has given
and received blessing
in the unfathomable mystery
that moves us,
undoes us,
and remakes us
for joy.

This day
may you know
this joy
in full measure.

This day
may you know
this blessing
that gathers you in
and sends you forth
but will not
forget you.

O hear us
as this day
we say
this day
we say
this day
we say
this day
we release you
in God’s keeping
and hold you
in gladness
and love.

—Jan Richardson

Using Jan’s artwork…

To use the image “When Friends Rejoice Both Far and Near,” please visit this page at Your use of 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.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

9 Responses to “This Day We Say Grateful: A Sending Blessing”

  1. Peter Notehelfer Says:

    Always love your artwork and your poetry. The artist has it over the theologian when it comes to moving the heart toward God’s holy presence. Too much thinking leads us into confusion! To stand in awe before simplicity pares us down to who we are in the ‘I~Thou’ equation of life. Thanks for your work!

  2. Lynda Says:

    Jan, your writing is so gentle and so deep, encompassing so many emotions. I purchased Circle of Grace for myself on Kindle and then purchased the book for others as the artwork on the cover is so beautiful.
    Blessings on your journey!

  3. Sandy Says:

    Today I put my 20 year old (my only, my dear one) on a plane to stay with strangers and study abroad for 4 weeks in Paris, France.
    Imagine how these words sound in my ears today: full of all the longing and truth and fear and safety we know…

    thank you, from my heart, for speaking what I cannot say
    and expressing what I have no words for.

    you are such a gift…!

  4. Robert L Lowry Says:

    Beautiful Jan, I hope you are back more often, I have missed you.

  5. Barbara Barton Says:

    Thank you Jan for your ministry

  6. Ann McGovern, RSM Says:

    Thank you, Jan! The blessing so spoke to me of our staff here at Mercy by the Sea who give so much to prepare our retreat center for our summer retreatants. I intend to pray it for them especially on the days when they are tired and drained. Still hoping that we can entice you to come to Mercy by the Sea to exhibit your beautiful art work in our Art Gallery and to perhaps give a retreat/program.

  7. Cindy Burt Says:

    Your painting is beautiful. I like your use of color. The poem captures many feelings of departure–conflicting emotions. We had a wonderful friend leave our church and study group recently, moving from the West to the East coast. The poem spoke to me

  8. Jeanne Everhart Says:

    That blessing is so meaningful to me. I am moving from the house my husband and I built and made memories. A widow now for two years, I am beginning a new phase of my life. I am downsizing and moving into town. I am sure God has new things planned for my life and I pray I will be a good disciple for Him. Thank you for that wonderful heartfelt poem.

  9. Mary Ann DeMont Says:

    Such beautiful words that weave around our hearts, decorating our lives. I am at a threshold, having recently retired from working for income. For a long time I have heard a small voice calling me to a new thing, full of possibilities for using my talents, time and treasures for others and the glory of God. I stand enthusiastic and anxious in liminal space.

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