Blessing When the World Is Ending

EndAndBeginningImage: End and Beginning  © Jan Richardson

I was in Ireland when the news came that in Orlando, where I make my home, 49 people had been killed in an attack at Pulse nightclub. It has been such a strange sorrow, returning home to a city so different than the one I left. And yet, watching the care and tenderness with which people have been turning toward each other in the wake of staggering violence, the city seems in many ways even more itself, in that beautiful and terrible way that grief has of bringing to the surface what is deepest in us.

From Ireland, after hearing the news, I shared the “Blessing in a Time of Violence” that I wrote last fall, and I grieved how timely the blessing is, again and again. It has been wonderful and awful to see how that blessing continues to travel, and to hear from folks who, searching for words on the heels of yet another fresh horror in the world, are finding the blessing for the first time.

It is a new week. I enter it with trepidation, wondering what news the coming days might hold. I enter it with wild and stubborn hope, praying we will, in the best possible ways, become even more ourselves.

I am entering the week, too, with another blessing on my mind. This is one that I wrote for my blog The Advent Door a couple of years ago; I included it in my new book, Circle of Grace. I want to share the blessing with you here. In every place where a world is ending, may we turn toward one another with wild and stubborn hope.

Blessing When the World is Ending

Look, the world
is always ending

the sun has come
crashing down.

it has gone
completely dark.

it has ended
with the gun,
the knife,
the fist.

it has ended
with the slammed door,
the shattered hope.

it has ended
with the utter quiet
that follows the news
from the phone,
the television,
the hospital room.

it has ended
with a tenderness
that will break
your heart.

But, listen,
this blessing means
to be anything
but morose.
It has not come
to cause despair.

It is simply here
because there is nothing
a blessing
is better suited for
than an ending,
nothing that cries out more
for a blessing
than when a world
is falling apart.

This blessing
will not fix you,
will not mend you,
will not give you
false comfort;
it will not talk to you
about one door opening
when another one closes.

It will simply
sit itself beside you
among the shards
and gently turn your face
toward the direction
from which the light
will come,
gathering itself
about you
as the world begins

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “End and Beginning,” 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.

26 Responses to “Blessing When the World Is Ending”

  1. Judy Grieve Says:

    Thank you Jan. I remember this blessing from the book but reading it again brings a sense of peace, just as a blessing should do.

  2. Karen Says:

    Thank you. A well-timed blessing.

  3. Anne Mills Says:

    Dear Jan
    Thank you so much for sending this wonderful blessing.
    I went to see my spiritual director this morning and we spent the time talking about our very troubled world, and when I came home there was this blessing from you in my inbox.
    Just what was needed. Wonderful timing.
    With love and grateful thanks.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Anne, thank you so much! It’s lovely to hear from you, and I’m really grateful for your words. So good to hear the blessing turned up in your inbox at a good time! I love it when words show up in my life just when I need them.

      Many blessings to you.

  4. Barbara Barton Says:

    Thank you Jan for the beautiful reminder.

  5. Cynthia Helton Says:

    I love this blessing so much. I wish all the people who need this so desperately were in a the state of mind to absorb it. Thank you, Jan.

  6. molly Weller Says:

    . Beautiful, grounded poetry

  7. Annette Says:

    very touching and strangely reassuring…

  8. Lynette Neil Says:

    Thank you for your beautiful work. I am an aspiring poet artist & your expression came at a time as I explore a graced world. You opened another portal to me and I’m grateful. Lynette Neil

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Lynette, many thanks for your beautiful comment. I wish you many blessings on your journey as a poet artist! May you find all the doorways you need.

  9. Jill Kemshed Says:

    I love all your writings, thank you.

  10. Judi Langholz Says:

    Thank you!

  11. MaryAnne Says:

    Thank you. That was a wonderful blessing in this very troubled world.

  12. Sue Holbrook Says:

    Thank you for this blessing, Jan
    . Mine ended in June with the tenderness that broke my heart. After 11 years of being imprisoned by Alzheimers, my mother suddenly sparkled awake and told me goodbye. Four days later she joined Jesus and Daddy. It was a hard 11 years, but now there is sweet peace. I’m so sorry for those whose world has ended differently, with violence and hate. May they somehow know that light that will gather about them.

  13. Jim Wheeler Says:

    What a wonderful blessing – it will be helpful to our people who are feeling overwhelmed at all the grief and tragedy that seem to overwhelm us each day with each news report. Thank you,

  14. Brenda Says:

    That is a wonderful blessing. We all experience loss, and we all need to look toward the light. And I love the painting, too.

  15. Scott Worden Says:

    Jan, Thank you for sharing your gifts and your life in such a public way. As I was reading your blog this week, my 7 year old son snuggled up beside me and on seeing your painting said, “it’s like a painting within a painting.” An appropriate expression of end and beginning I think. Blessings!

  16. Ruth Says:

    I was familiar with this blessing from your book Circle of Grace, but what a God-incidence of timing rediscovering it in your post. It dovetailed so beautifully with a post I was writing that I included your words, (as you may have realised from the ping back) Properly credited and linked back to your sites for both book and blessing. ( you can view it here, if you wish to see it:
    Many many thanks once again, Jan.

  17. Philip Waldron Says:

    Beautiful Blessing…. Thank you for sharing. First time visiting your website and blog…

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