Lost Blessing

Pattern and PathImage: Pattern and Path © Jan Richardson

In a favorite scene from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, as the crew sails beyond the known world on a quest to rescue Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner asks Captain Barbossa for a heading. With a keen eye born of long experience on the sea, Barbossa replies, “Aye, we’re good and lost now.”

“Lost?” Elizabeth Swann asks, clearly unsettled by the relish with which Barbossa has delivered his navigational assessment.

“For sure,” Barbossa assures her, “you have to be lost to find a place that can’t be found, elseways everyone would know where it was.”

It’s one of those frustrating truths of the journey: that sometimes the only sure way to find the place we belong is to let ourselves become good and lost—to allow ourselves to be unsure of the next step, to give up looking for markers and directions, and to wait until a path begins to show itself.

In the liner notes to her CD The Book of Secrets, Loreena McKennitt writes, “In the end, I wonder if one of the most important steps on our journey is the one in which we throw away the map.”

If we ever had a map in the first place.

It can be uncomfortable, at the least, to let ourselves become lost. Letting go of familiar landmarks that have helped us know where and who we are can come with no small amount of pain, even as it opens the possibility of worlds we never imagined.

Of all the experiences I’m navigating on my journey with grief, the sensation of being lost in my own life is one of the most bewildering and difficult. Yet I am finding it also to be a place of remarkable grace. For now, letting myself be lost means letting there be some things in my life that I don’t have to figure out just yet. It means allowing myself plenty of time to be in the studio, exploring new creative directions without an agenda or an impending deadline. It means giving myself time to rest, to wander, and to dream my way toward the next right step.

This is a new blessing born of being in that lost and graced place. Begun during my recent time in Ireland—a place of much solace that has helped me feel a little less lost—”Lost Blessing” will be in my new book of blessings that will be released this fall.

If you are feeling lost in your life, this is for you. Deep peace to you.

Lost Blessing

It doesn’t always
mean to go astray.
But somehow
this blessing knew
it would find you here—

here in this place
where even you
don’t know where
you are.

This blessing
regrets to say
it left its compass
at home.
It is without map,
chart, GPS.
It has hardly
any native sense
of direction.

This blessing
appears to be
nearly useless,
in fact.

and I know
this might not be
it purely loves
getting lost.

This blessing
has learned to breathe
when it has left
every landmark behind,
when it has seen
its last signpost,
when dark has
begun to fall
while it is
still far from home.

This blessing
knows the prayers to say
when it has misplaced
its way,
the chants
that will help it
find the path
where it seems
no path could ever be.

This blessing
is good at finding
fellow travelers.

It loves the company
of the lost,
the wandering,
the confused,
the ones who have been
walking in circles
for days;

loves helping them
find water, shelter,

loves keeping vigil
so they can
safely rest.

The point of this blessing
is that it has
no real point.

It just wants you to know
you are not alone,
have never been,
will never be—

that it will go with you,
will wander with you
as long as you want,
as long as it takes,
gladly being lost with you
until your way

—Jan Richardson

Using Jan’s artwork…
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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.

13 Responses to “Lost Blessing”

  1. nan Says:

    Great blessing for those of us who are lost but making excellent time. Time to stop and just be and let it find us. Thanks for this one

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      “Lost but making excellent time.” Love this, Nan! It resonates. Thanks so much. Much gratitude and many blessings to you!

  2. Ruth Says:

    Jan you were born to bless. In light and dark, joy and sorrow, clear way and Liminal lostness, your gift of words and art touch more lives than you can ever know.
    Thank you and be blessed in the blessing.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Oh, Ruth, that’s lovely! Thank you so much for your gift of words; they are a blessing to me.

      Congratulations on the recent anniversary of your ordination! I am grateful for who you are in this world. Deep peace and many blessings to you.

  3. Diane-Nicole L. Hertzler Says:

    Thank you for this poem. It in itself has been a sort of directional from Him Who knows All.

  4. Diana Says:

    Thank you, Jan. Beautiful, as always!

  5. Olivia Says:

    Lovely! Psalm 139 came to mind when reading.

    9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
    10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.


    Jan, thank you for giving words to our longings and our need to just be lost. Thank you for being you, grace to the world.

  7. Susan van Duinen Says:

    Jan your writings of blessings intersects with my life. My beloved passed away most unexpectedly on June 2, 2013. We had the gift of bring together 43 years. Two sons and five grand children.
    Right now I am on quest of 21 days in England Holland France and Italy with our wonderful 16 year old granddaughter.
    A tender moment happened as we dipped our toes in the Irish Sea at St Bees. Not only did the water wash over our toes, the memory of my husband and I standing there 5 years ago washed over my heart. And Emma placed her arm around me. A most tender moment.
    Thank you Jan for your deep understanding of this journey of grief as evident in the blessing you write.

  8. Tammy Estep Says:

    This post and blessing is a gift. I know with the election of Rev. Karen Oliveto in the western jurisdiction, some are feeling lost while others a feeling found. But the blessing continues. God is with us and God is making a way. Thanks for your timely words! Grace upon Grace, Jan.

  9. Bob Oberg Says:

    Brings to mind Krishnamurti’s words, “Truth is a pathless land”.

  10. Heather Says:

    Thank you.
    My parenting journey has taken me in directions I did t know. I often feel rudderless, mapless, and alone. This spoke to the deepest part of me.
    Thank you.

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