Welcoming Blessing

Image: The Best Supper © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Year A, Proper 8/Ordinary 13/Pentecost +4: Matthew 10.40-42

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me.”
—Matthew 10.40

In a beautiful town on the southwest coast of Ireland, there is a magical restaurant. My sister and I discovered it last summer. It is a wondrous combination of coziness, loveliness, deliciousness, and friendliness. I couldn’t help but fall in love.

After our sister time, I remained in Ireland for two more weeks to work on the blessings for The Cure for Sorrow. The restaurant became a regular spot for me. During that solitary time of working on these grief-borne blessings, it was an extraordinary gift to know I had a place I could go—a place where they called me by name, welcomed me to the table, talked with me, fed me in belly and soul.

I had left for Ireland feeling like a stranger in my own skin, so altered by the loss that was compelling me to make a new life. That new life is still in the making, but when I left Ireland, still enfolded in the welcome I found there, I felt less like a stranger to myself. When I returned to that coastal town this summer and walked into that restaurant once again, I heard a voice say, “Jan! You’re back!”

My experiences in Ireland gave me a new glimpse of the power of welcome, of what can happen when someone gathers us in and invites us to be at home when we are not at home, or have had to leave our home, or do not know where home is.

This blessing was inspired by that enchanted restaurant. May we know—and create—places of welcome that help us become something other than strangers to one another and to ourselves. May we learn how to make one another at home in this world.

Welcoming Blessing

When you are lost
in your own life.

When the landscape
you have known
falls away.

When your familiar path
becomes foreign
and you find yourself
a stranger
in the story you had held
most dear.

Then let yourself
be lost.
Let yourself leave
for a place
whose contours
you do not already know,
whose cadences
you have not learned
by heart.
Let yourself land
on a threshold
that mirrors the mystery
of your own
bewildered soul.

It will come
as a surprise,
what arrives
to welcome you
through the door,
making a place for you
at the table
and calling you
by your name.

Let what comes,

Let the glass
be filled.
Let the light
be tended.
Let the hands
lay before you
what will meet you
in your hunger.

Let the laughter.
Let the sweetness
that enters
the sorrow.
Let the solace
that comes
as sustenance
and sudden, unbidden

For what comes,
offer gladness.
For what greets you
with kindly welcome,
offer thanks.
Offer blessing
for those
who gathered you in
and will not
be forgotten—

those who,
when you were
a stranger,
made a place for you
at the table
and called you
by your name.

—Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief

With gratitude to Neill, Grace, and everyone at No. 35 Kenmare.

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13 Responses to “Welcoming Blessing”

  1. Jane Says:

    Dear Jan, I just wanted to say thank you for this blessing. I LOVE it… I’m working in South Africa and about to go on furlough for 3 months. People in the UK are saying, I bet you are looking forward to coming home and people here are saying when are you coming back home. I fly on Thursday and I will treasure this blessing. Thank you and keep writing!

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Jane, thank you so much! I’m grateful for the gift of your words. Many blessings to you as you go on furlough and spend time in your UK home!

  2. Ann Houlette Says:

    I so appreciate this blessing and others that are born out of your experience of loss. I am sharing in a similar loss, though am losing my husband day by day, though an early onset dementia. Your writing speaks to me, and for that I just want to say, “thank you!”

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Ann, I am so sorry for the daily losses you are living with because of your husband’s early onset dementia. I pray that you will both know yourselves enfolded in grace and in love. Thank you for your words and your thoughtfulness. I send you armloads of blessings as you navigate this, and I pray that you will be met with many graces and with everything you need, each step of the way.

  3. Lynda Myres Says:

    Dearest Jan, this blessing has arrived, and it so precisely mirrors my life at this very moment, that if I was to have your gift of words, I could not write anything that captures my heart, and my gratitude, and the blessing of those who have become my new family for this time, more perfectly. Thankyou, thankyou, as you too move through these days of blessing, much love, Lynda

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Lynda, thank you! I’m so grateful for the gift of your words. I am sending many blessings for you and for those who have become your new family for this time. They sound like a blessing embodied! Deep peace to you.

  4. Regina Vieyra Says:

    Thank you so much for this blessing and prayer. I’ve been walking this path of not knowing exactly what i should do with my life after a big change of roads. I know that the answer is some where it does not matter I have not find it yet.
    May God bless you, your loved ones and your ministry abundantly.

  5. Karen Says:

    I traveled to Ireland for my 60th birthday and I can’t wait to return. What a gracious place. I’d love to know the name and location of the restaurant.

  6. Ena de Haan Says:

    Thank you for this poem and for the Cure for Sorrow which was given to me Last Christmas by our minister, so much appreciated !! Even though my husband died 3 yrs ago around the time of yours I believe, my partner was much older but still always too soon it seems! The book of blessings has been a blessing, much comfort is needed. After 3 years I feel my life is finally taking on meaning again in a different way.
    Thank you for the regular emails and may you continue to be blessed and be a blessing. Peace of Christ to you.

  7. Jayne Says:

    I spent the end of May and the first two weeks of June this year in Ireland.
    Without exception I found the people of Ireland to be extravagantly giving, friendly and helpful. At first I thought it might be just in the ‘service’ community, but I soon discovered it on the streets whilst walking The Dingle Way.
    It was such a sharp contrast to the milieu of Los Angles that I felt sad to leave, but this view of creating places inside myself and within my community of ‘welcome’ hit home. Thank you, Jan.

  8. Lynda Says:

    Jan, this blessing speaks so deeply of my own experience of having to let go of almost 40 years of marriage and enter into a new way of living. God provided welcoming people and, more importantly, God welcomed me into a life with God in a deeper way. Now I’m on the verge of another major change and these amazing people whom God has placed in my life are there with welcoming arms.
    This blessing is so insightful for so many different situations. I cannot thank you enough.
    Blessings to you!

  9. Denise Stringer Says:

    Thank you. This reached me personally. I pray that I may be more aware of the value of providing simple listening, respect and inclusion without prejudgment as an ongoing spiritual discipline.

  10. Maureen McCarthy-Koth Says:

    Jan i have recently moved to Tennessee after living for years in Washington state. it has been a difficult move leaving behind all that i have known for years. this moment has been a particularly hard one. i jus happened to click on a saved link. it was your prayer and blessing above. i’m not quite to the point of feeling completely open but i am grateful for the words to help me get there peace to you

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