Archive for the ‘art’ Category

Blessing for an Anniversary Date

November 10, 2016

Wandering in TimeImage: Wandering in Time © Jan Richardson

We are moving through a season that holds such tender markers for me, anniversaries that echo with deep sorrow instead of celebration. We have passed Halloween, the day that holds the beginnings of who Gary and I became together. His fateful surgery was November 14. His birthday—he spent his final one in the hospital—is November 17. December 2 will mark three years since Gary died.

The span of time since Gary’s death feels both surprisingly short and achingly long. These days of memory, these anniversary days I am moving through, heighten that sense of the shortness-and-longness of time, making me more keenly aware of the ways that time compresses even as it stretches out, fluid even in its seeming fixity.

From the moment the neurosurgeon came into the waiting room at 4 a.m. and said, It did not go as we anticipated, time has moved in strange ways. I have come to think of this strangeness as a consequence of having a heart that now lives in two worlds, a heart that has been torn open toward eternity even as I continue to open my heart to this life, to what is here and now.

In the strangeness of time, there is deep grace. And perhaps the strangeness itself is a grace. Perhaps the strangeness is a sign that time is wider and deeper and more whole than we can perceive in this life, that now and eternity are not the separate realms we often make them out to be.

When we travel through days of memory that stir our sorrow, when we spiral back around moments that open doors to a past we wish we had the power to change, when time seems more of a burden than a blessing, may we be given a glimpse of the eternity these days hold. May these anniversaries show us that grace and love are vaster than our sorrow, and more enduring. May we find that remembering can be a form of hope. May we know time’s strange graces and open our hearts toward the solace they hold.

Blessing for an Anniversary Date

I am imagining
you have learned by now
that time will never move
quite straight for you again—
no more forward only,
if ever it traveled that way.

Now it will be
the bend and
the turn of it,
the curve and
the cradling of it,

the unfurling,
unfolding,
unwinding of it
as it arcs you around
in this spiral
of seasons,
as it draws you around
in this circle
of days.

Like today,
for instance—
this day that marks
a year since last
you passed by
this gate,
this threshold,
this door
that lives with such
vividness in your
memory,
opening onto the
chamber of your heart
where what this day once held
keeps happening.

Let yourself listen
for the liturgy
that persists here,
for the life you shared
that still opens out
along secret paths.

Let yourself
linger again
at the door
of this day.

Let yourself
give yourself into
its hours with
exquisite kindness
and wondrous care.

Light the candles
in celebration
of what remains,
in the ceremony
of what abides
in the shelter
of these hours,
in the mystery
of this day.

—Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow

The Cure for Sorrow

COMING NOVEMBER 15!

A blessing meets us in the place of our deepest loss. In that place, it gives us a glimpse of wholeness and claims that wholeness here and now. —from the Introduction

Jan’s much-anticipated new book enters with heartbreaking honesty into the rending that loss brings. It moves, too, into the unexpected shelters of solace and hope, inviting us to recognize the presence of love that, as she writes, is “sorrow’s most lasting cure.”

Available now for pre-order on Amazon.

 

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Wandering in Time,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (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 janrichardsonimages.com 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. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

All Saints: God of the Living

October 31, 2016

A Gathering of SpiritsImage: A Gathering of Spirits © Jan Richardson

“Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living;
for to him all of them are alive.”
—Luke 20:38

I have long loved this trinity of days of October 31, November 1, and November 2: Halloween, the Feast of All Saints, the Feast of All Souls. For many years these days have been for me a threshold time—what the Celtic tradition calls a thin place, where the veil between worlds becomes permeable. I learned long ago that this thin place is a time for paying attention, for listening at the threshold, for noticing what door seems to be opening and inviting me to walk through.

It seemed fitting that Gary and I began dating on Halloween, that the roots of our relationship go deep into these thin, in-between, meeting-of-worlds days. As I continue to navigate this path in the wake of his dying, it comes as a comfort to remember the message of the Feast of All Saints: that in the body of Christ, death does not release us from being in relationship with one another. The separation that causes us such pain in this life does not sever the bonds of community.

As we move through these days, I want to share a blessing I wrote three years ago, the last time this reading from Luke 20 came up in the lectionary. When I wrote the blessing, I had no idea how much I would need it for myself, and how soon. Just a week after I posted it, Gary had the surgery that, so unexpectedly, would bear him away from us.

In these days, may the veil be thin for each of us. May we know the blessing of those who are gone from this life but who breathe with us still, and may we know the grace of the God who breathes life into us all. Deep peace to you.

God of the Living
A Blessing

When the wall
between the worlds
is too firm,
too close.

When it seems
all solidity
and sharp edges.

When every morning
you wake as if
flattened against it,
its forbidding presence
fairly pressing the breath
from you
all over again.

Then may you be given
a glimpse
of how weak the wall

and how strong what stirs
on the other side,

breathing with you
and blessing you
still,
forever bound to you
but freeing you
into this living,
into this world
so much wider
than you ever knew.

—Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow

The Cure for Sorrow

COMING NOVEMBER 15!

A blessing meets us in the place of our deepest loss. In that place, it gives us a glimpse of wholeness and claims that wholeness here and now. —from the Introduction

Jan’s much-anticipated new book enters with heartbreaking honesty into the rending that loss brings. It moves, too, into the unexpected shelters of solace and hope, inviting us to recognize the presence of love that, as she writes, is “sorrow’s most lasting cure.”

Available now for pre-order on Amazon.

 

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “A Gathering of Spirits,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (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 janrichardsonimages.com 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. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Solace Blessing

October 20, 2016

Gesture of GraceImage: Gesture of Grace © Jan Richardson

In the anguish. In the grief. In the unmendable loss and unfixable sorrow.

In the rending of the heart within us. In the ruptures of the world around us.

In the divisions. In the rancor. In the fissures and fractures and all the ways that life breaks us open.

In this. What solace do we need to receive? What solace do we need to offer? Among the fragments, what gesture of grace will we inhabit and inscribe and enact?

Solace Blessing

That’s it.
That’s all this blessing
knows how to do:

Shine your shoes.
Fill your refrigerator.
Water your plants.
Make some soup.

All the things
you cannot think
to do yourself
when the world
has come apart,
when nothing
will be normal
again.

Somehow
this blessing knows
precisely what you need,
even before
you know.

It sees what will bring
the deepest solace
for you.
It senses what will offer
the kindest grace.

And so it will step
with such quietness
into the ordinary moments
where the absence
is the deepest.

It will enter
with such tenderness
into the hours
where the sorrow
is most keen.

You do not even
have to ask.

Just leave it open—
your door,
your heart,
your day
in every aching moment
it holds.

See what solace
spills through the gaps
your sorrow has torn.

See what comfort
comes to visit,
holding out its gifts
in each compassionate hand.

—Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow

The Cure for Sorrow

COMING NOVEMBER 15!

A blessing meets us in the place of our deepest loss. In that place, it gives us a glimpse of wholeness and claims that wholeness here and now. —from the Introduction

Jan’s much-anticipated new book enters with heartbreaking honesty into the rending that loss brings. It moves, too, into the unexpected shelters of solace and hope, inviting us to recognize the presence of love that, as she writes, is “sorrow’s most lasting cure.”

Available now for pre-order on Amazon.

 

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Gesture of Grace,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (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 janrichardsonimages.com 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. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Blessing for the Dailiness of Grief

September 16, 2016

Time's GraceImage: Time’s Grace © Jan Richardson

It’s the dailiness of grief that I find most daunting. Morning after morning I wake into a world that does not have Gary in it. I will never find him making breakfast in the kitchen, waiting to enfold me as we begin the day. I will never sit down across from him at the table. I will never call out to him from my studio as he works in his studio. I will never walk into the house and hear him say, Hello, Sweetheart! I will never walk out of the house with him and move together through this world, these moments, this life in the ways we so loved.

And still, it is in those same moments that grace finds me. It is in those same moments that solace steals in, working its way into the everydayness that can be so daunting but in which love still lives, waiting to enfold me as I begin the day. Sitting itself down across from me at the table. Visiting me in the studio. Welcoming me every time I walk into the house and blessing me every time I leave it. Breathing with me as I find new rhythms, new patterns, new doorways in every single day.

Blessing for the Dailiness of Grief

Sorry I am
to say it,
but it is here,
most likely,
you will know the rending
most deeply.

It will take your breath away,
how the grieving waits for you
in the most ordinary moments.

It will wake
with your waking.

It will
sit itself down
with you at the table,
inhabiting the precise shape
of the emptiness
across from you.

It will walk down the street
with you
in the form of
no hand reaching out
to take yours.

It will stand alongside you
in every conversation,
nearly unbearable
in its silence
that fairly screams.

It will
brush its teeth
with you at night
and climb into bed
with you
when finally
you let go
of this day.

Even as it goes
always with you,
it will still manage
to startle you with
its presence,
causing you to weep
when you enter
the empty kitchen
in the morning,
when you spread fresh sheets
on the bed you shared,
when you walk out
through the door
alone
and pass back through it
likewise.

It is here
you will know it best—
in the moments
that made up the rhythm
of your days,
that fashioned the litany
of your life,
the togethering
you will never know
in the same way again.

But I will tell you
it is here, too,
that your solace lies.
It will wait for you
in those same moments
that stun you
with their sorrow.

I cannot tell you how,
but it will not cease
to carry you
in the cadence that has
forever altered
but whose echo will persist
with a stubbornness
that will surprise you,
bearing you along,
breathing with you still
through the terrible
and exquisite
ordinary days.

—Jan Richardson
from a forthcoming book of blessings

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Time’s Grace,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (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 janrichardsonimages.com 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. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Blessing for Falling into a New Layer of Grief

August 10, 2016

The Secret RoomImage: The Secret Room © Jan Richardson

It always catches me by surprise when it happens. I’m going along, learning to find my way in this strange terrain that opened to me in the wake of Gary’s death. I’ve gained some acquaintance with the landscape of grief, have listened and looked hard for the new life that’s unfolding here, and have become adept at asking, What do I need now? What’s the invitation here, in this place?

And then, in the landscape that I think I’m coming to know, the ground suddenly falls away. I tumble into territory that doesn’t look familiar. I feel lost all over again, and nearly helpless to know what would help.

I find it difficult to describe this place—this space that can open up as we navigate the strange country of grief. The first time it happened to me, perhaps a year into my grieving, I said to a friend, It feels like some corner of my heart is just getting the news that Gary died. When it happened again, earlier this year, I told that friend it felt like I had fallen—hard—into a new layer of grief, as if I had crashed through a once-solid floor into the room below. For all the strangeness, the falling came with a familiar sensation—that some part of my heart, some hidden recess in one of its chambers, had just received the terrible, heartrending news that Gary was gone.

I sense that this kind of experience has something to do with settling deeper and deeper into the reality of loss—or letting the loss settle more and more deeply into us. When we lose someone with whom we have shared our life, it is impossible to fathom at the outset how utterly this will alter us. We cannot absorb it all at once. And so we learn it little by little, living into the loss a few steps, a few moments, a few breaths at a time.

Once in a while, our grief-laden hearts are ready for larger shifts. It’s rarely pretty when it happens. For me, those are the crashing-through-the-floor times. The helpless weeping times. The times when it feels like part of my heart is just hearing the news. The times when I look at all I’ve done to make a new life, and it feels like ashes because Gary is not here.

The good news—and there is good news here, though it can sometimes take long and long to see it through all the rubble and ash—is that when something in our heart and in our life collapses and crumbles, we fall into new spaces we could hardly have imagined on this side of the crumbling. For all the pain of landing there, those spaces tend also to hold wonders that are waiting for us to find them.

Those spaces make our hearts larger. They widen our hearts beyond anything we could have envisioned. In the crumbling and collapsing and crashing, more of our heart becomes exposed. This means we have more access to our own selves, that there is more of us available to be who we are. We are able to be more present to the life that is unfolding through us, to the grace that lives within the grief, to those around us, and even to our beloved who is gone but who somehow lives in new ways in our expanding heart.

I will tell you, nearly three years now since Gary’s death, that having a bigger heart is small consolation in the face of his absence. But if I have to live with his absence, then I will take the bigger heart. I will pray that I can keep allowing it to open, and open, and open still more, even when the opening feels like crumbling. Even when it feels like falling.

Blessing for Falling into a New Layer of Grief

You thought
you had hit
every layer possible,
that you had found
the far limit
of your sorrow,
of your grief.

Now the world falls
from beneath your feet
all over again,
as if the wound
were opening
for the first time,
only now with
an ache you recognize
as ancient.

Here is the time
for kindness—
your own, to yourself—
as you fall
and fall,
as you land hard
in this layer
that lies deeper than
you ever imagined
you could go.

Think of it as
a secret room—
this space
that has opened
before you,
that has opened
inside you,
though it may look
sharp in every corner
and sinister
no matter where
you turn.

Think of it as
a hidden chamber
in your heart
where you can stay
as long as you need,
where you will
find provision
you never wanted
but on which
your life will now
depend.

I want to tell you
there is treasure
even here—
that the sharp lines
that so match your scars
will lead
to solace;
that this space
that feels so foreign
will become for you
a shelter.

So let yourself fall.
It will not be
the last time,
but do not let this be
cause for fear.

These are the rooms
around which your
new home will grow—
the home of your heart,
the home of your life
that welcomes you
with such completeness,
opening and
opening and
opening itself to you,
no part of you
turned away.

—Jan Richardson
from a forthcoming book of blessings

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “The Secret Room,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (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 janrichardsonimages.com 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. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Blessing for Getting the News

July 27, 2016

blog-GraceInTheDarkImage: Grace in the Dark © Jan Richardson

It was three years ago this week that we learned Gary had a brain aneurysm. Four months later, at the end of a surgery that should have handily dealt with the aneurysm, Gary’s neurosurgeon stepped into the waiting room and said, It did not go as we expected.

And the world cracked open.

I’m thinking a lot about news these days—news that comes suddenly, news that comes after long waiting, news that we never wanted, news that begins the ending of the life we have known.

I pray such news is far away for you. But when it comes, if it comes, I pray that in the rending, a blessing will be waiting to enfold you.

Blessing for Getting the News

I don’t know
how it will be
for you.

For me,
when the news came—
when it sat down
across from me in the
waiting room
at 4 a.m.,
wearing scrubs and
speaking words awful
and full of
strangeness—
it came with
a humming in
my head,
an endless, echoing buzzing
that would never
entirely leave.

I can hardly tell you
the words the news used—
others would piece that
together for me,
later—
but I can tell you that
in the humming,
a whole other conversation
was happening.

In that conversation,
I remember wanting
to appear calm
while the world
was beginning the rending
from which it
never would return.

In that conversation,
I remember wanting
to be the wife
who could withstand
what the news
was saying to me
even as I could
hardly hear it.

In that conversation,
I remember wanting to ask
if someone could please
get me a blanket already
because I was shaking so hard
I thought I would shatter.

I do not know
how it will be
for you.

But when
the news comes,
may it be attended
by every grace,
including the ones
you will not be able
to see now.

When the news comes,
may there be hands
to enfold and bless,
even when
you cannot receive
their blessing now.

When the news comes,
may the humming
in your head
give way to song,
even if it will be
long and long
before you can
hear it,

before you can
comprehend the love
that latched onto you
in the rending—
the love that bound itself to you
even as it began its leaving
and has never
let you go.

—Jan Richardson
from a forthcoming book of blessings

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Grace in the Dark,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (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 janrichardsonimages.com 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. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Blessing When the World Is Ending

July 18, 2016

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
somewhere.

Somewhere
the sun has come
crashing down.

Somewhere
it has gone
completely dark.

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

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

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

Somewhere
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
again.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “End and Beginning,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (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 janrichardsonimages.com 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. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Lost Blessing

July 13, 2016

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.

But—
and I know
this might not be
encouraging—
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,
shade;

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
appears.

—Jan Richardson

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Pattern and Path,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (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 janrichardsonimages.com 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. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Blessing for Coming Home to an Empty House

July 6, 2016

ManyRoomsImage: Many Rooms © Jan Richardson

In the two and a half years since Gary’s death, I have had lots of practice at coming home. It’s one of the most difficult practices I’ve ever had to work at. Because our home was a space that Gary and I created together, there is much comfort still to be found here. But that comfort is shot through with the ache of his physical absence from what we created. Every time I cross back over the threshold into our home, whether from a quick errand or a long trip, both the comfort and the ache are waiting here to greet me.

One of my most recent homecomings was just a couple weeks ago, after a wondrous month in Ireland. I spent two weeks traveling with my sister, then stayed on for a stretch to do some work on a new book of blessings.

This is one of the blessings I worked on in Ireland, and I wanted to share it with you. In all your comings and goings, may grace meet you and welcome you home. Peace to you.

Blessing for Coming Home to an Empty House

I know
how every time you return,
you call out
in greeting
to the one
who is not there;
how you lift your voice
not in habit
but in honor
of the absence
so fierce
it has become
its own force.

I know
how the hollow
of the house
echoes in your chest,
how the emptiness
you enter
matches the ache
you carry with you
always.

I know
there are days
when the only thing
more brave than leaving
this house
is coming back to it.

So on those days,
may there be a door
in the emptiness
through which a welcome
waits for you.

On those days,
may you be surprised
by the grace
that gathers itself
within this space.

On those days,
may the delight
that made a home here
find its way to you again,
not merely in memory
but in hope,

so that every word
ever spoken in kindness
circles back to meet you;

so that you may hear
what still sings to you
within these walls;

so that you may know
the love
that dreams with you here
when finally
you give yourself
to rest—

the love
that rises with you,
stubborn like the dawn
that never fails
to come.

—Jan Richardson

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Many Rooms,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (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 janrichardsonimages.com 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. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

This Day We Say Grateful: A Sending Blessing

June 24, 2016

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
emptied
and filled
and emptied again,
may you be aware
more than ever
of what your heart
has opened to
here,
what it has tended
and welcomed
here,
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
finally
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
grace;
this day
we say
grateful;
this day
we say
blessing;
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 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.