Archive for the ‘Gospel of Mark’ Category

Lent 1: The Wild Language of Lent

February 13, 2018

Into EarthImage: Into Earth © Jan Richardson

Readings for Lent 1, Year B:
Genesis 9.8-17; Psalm 25.1-10; 1 Peter 3.18-22; Mark 1.9-15

As Jesus knew, going into the barren and uncomfortable places
isn’t about proving how holy we are, or how tough, or how brave.
It’s about letting God draw us into the place where we don’t
know everything, don’t have to know everything, indeed may be
emptied of nearly everything we think we know.

—from Lent 1: Discernment and Dessert in the Desert
The Painted Prayerbook, February 2008

Into the desert, again. Into the wilderness that waits for us, still. Ten years we have traveled through Lent here at The Painted Prayerbook. It is never quite the same path from year to year, never precisely the landscape we explored the last time around. This, of course, is part of the point of Lent: it disrupts what is comfortable, familiar, and known, that we may be startled out of our customary ways of seeing.

As I gathered up the reflections I’ve written for the first Sunday of Lent across the past decade, my eye was drawn to the vocabulary that has emerged as we’ve explored this season—the Lenten lexicon that has taken shape as we’ve journeyed through these weeks again and again.

I began to write down the words that drew my eye as I revisited these reflections. There was wilderness, of course, and desert. There was memory and story and earth.

Pilgrimage, I wrote; sustenance, breath.
Hunger, thirst, graces.

Emptying, angels, sweetness, strength.
Passage, preparing, solitude, beasts.
Comfort, wild, wrestling, solace.
Recognition, wing, clearing, liminal.

There were questions and chaos in the Lenten lexicon,
clarity
and knowing,
discernment, treasure, initiation,
essential, sojourn, practice.

There was enough.

And there was this word, shimmering in the midst of them all; the most fundamental word we need to know in this or any season:

Beloved, beloved, beloved.

As I look back over the list, I wonder how this vocabulary, this Lenten lexicon, will arrange itself this time around. How will these words constellate in this season, what path will they create, what map will they make? When I look back on this landscape from the other side of Easter, what story might these words be able to tell me? What new words might arrive to help fill in the gaps, the hollows, the holes?

What are some of the words that inhabit your own Lenten vocabulary, that have emerged in your own journey through this season, year by year? If you make a list, what do you notice? What story—or litany, or poem, or map, or—might these words begin to make?

From across the past decade, I’ve gathered together these reflections for you—a little Lenten library, offered with gratitude and blessing. Deep peace to you as Lent begins.

Mark 1.9-15 (includes reflections on related Gospel readings)

Lent 1: Where the Breath Begins
Lent 1: Beloved Is Where We Begin
First Sunday of Lent: And the Angels Waited
Day 2: Up from the Water
Day 3: Into the Wilderness
Day 4: With the Wild Beasts
Lent 1: A Blessing for the Wilderness
Lent 1: Into the Wilderness
Lent 1: A River Runs through Him
Lent 1: Discernment and Dessert in the Desert

Genesis 9.8-17

I Will Remember

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Into Earth,” 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.

Transfiguration Sunday: In the Turning

February 7, 2018

Image: Transfiguration © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Transfiguration Sunday, Year B: Mark 9.2-9

The story of the Transfiguration is about opening our eyes
to glory, allowing that glory to alter us, and becoming willing
to walk where it leads us.

—from Transfiguration Sunday: When Glory
The Painted Prayerbook, February 2014

In our ten years here at The Painted Prayerbook, we have traveled through many Transfiguration Sundays! As we approach the day once again, I have gathered up for you a selection of the reflections that I’ve offered here for Transfiguration Sunday across the past decade.

Revisiting these reflections, I have been struck all over again by how this coming Sunday is a threshold day in the rhythm of the Christian year. The end of the Epiphany season is upon us, and Lent has almost-but-not-quite begun. As we stand at the edge of this turning of seasons, the strange and wondrous story of Jesus’ mountaintop journey seems almost to unfold outside of time, or at least to collapse the bounds of time as the trio of puzzled and dazzled disciples witness Jesus’ exchange with Moses and Elijah.

Yet this story draws the disciples—and us—deeply back into time. As they return down the mountain, they reenter the rhythm of time by which Jesus engages the world and the work he has come to do within it. In their reentering, revelation begins to settle in; Peter, James, and John can no longer see Jesus or the world as they had once done. What they witnessed on the mountaintop, they have not left behind. What they saw there now infuses what—and how—they see here, as they live on level ground.

And for us? On this threshold that draws us from one season into another, what will the story of the Transfiguration invite us to see? How will we allow that seeing to alter us, that we may enter the world again and again in the company of the Christ who travels with us in every moment?

Here are a handful of reflections for you, for this Transfiguration Sunday. I offer them with many blessings.

Transfiguration Sunday: When Glory
Transfiguration Sunday: Dazzling
Transfiguration: Back to the Drawing Board
Transfiguration Sunday: Show and (Don’t) Tell

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Transfiguration,” 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.

A Far Journey: Feast of the Epiphany, Baptism of Jesus, and a Decade at The Painted Prayerbook

January 5, 2018

Image: The Wise Ones © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany Day: Matthew 2.1-12

“We observed his star at its rising,
and have come to pay him homage.”
—Matthew 2.2

As I write this, it is the night before Epiphany, one of my favorite days in the calendar. With releasing the Women’s Christmas Retreat this week, I didn’t get to write an Epiphany post earlier, but I don’t want the feast day to pass without some words of celebration.

And speaking of celebration, tomorrow marks ten years since The Painted Prayerbook began! My first post here was on Epiphany Day in 2008. I had just finished my first season at The Advent Door, and I was so engaged by that journey of creating reflections and artwork in connection with Advent and Christmas that I created The Painted Prayerbook as a way to keep doing this throughout the year.

We have traveled a long way from that Epiphany to this one, across a terrain that can hardly be measured in years. But tonight, on the eve of the day when (in Western Christianity) we remember those who journeyed far to welcome the Christ child, it feels timely to tell you that I am tremendously grateful for the ways you have shared this path with me. Thank you so much for your companionship.

In celebration of Epiphany Day as well as a decade here, I have gathered up a collection of posts from across the past ten years at The Painted Prayerbook. In the links below, you’ll find a constellation of my reflections, artwork, and blessings for Epiphany. You’ll also find links to my posts for the Baptism of Jesus, which this year falls right next to Epiphany.

As we travel into this new season and new year, may Christ our Light accompany you with many graces for your path. Blessings and peace to you!

Feast of the Epiphany

Epiphany: For Those Who Have Far to Travel
Epiphany: This Brightness That You Bear
Epiphany: Blessing of the Magi
Epiphany: Where the Map Begins
Feast of the Epiphany: Blessing the House
Feast of the Epiphany: A Calendar of Kings
The Feast of the Epiphany: Magi and Mystery

Baptism of Jesus

This year’s gospel reading for Epiphany 1/Baptism of Jesus is Mark 1.4-11. The list below includes reflections on the related readings from Matthew and Luke.

Baptism of Jesus: Beginning with Beloved
Baptism of Jesus: Washed
Baptism of Jesus: Following the Flow
Epiphany 1: Baptized and Beloved
Epiphany 1: Take Me to the River
Epiphany 1: Ceremony (with a Side of Cake)

A bonus Epiphany blessing: Among the remarkable collection of songs that Gary wrote for Christmas is a particular favorite called “Why Are We Following This Star?” It was one of the last songs he wrote (it’s on his CD Songmaker’s Christmas), and it beautifully evokes the mystery and wonder at the heart of the story we celebrate on Epiphany. To listen, click the play button in the audio player below. (For my email subscribers: if you don’t see the player below, click here to go to The Painted Prayerbook, where you can view it in this post.)
 

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “The Wise Ones,” 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.

Transfiguration Sunday: Overshadowing

February 8, 2015

OvershadowingImage: Overshadowing © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Transfiguration Sunday, Year B: Mark 9.2-9

Then a cloud overshadowed them,
and from the cloud there came a voice.
–Mark 9.7

We’ve seen a few Transfiguration Sundays here at The Painted Prayerbook! Today’s artwork is new, created as I reflected on Mark’s use of the word overshadow (episkiazo in the Greek). I’m intrigued by how, in the gospels, the only other place we see this word appear is in Luke 1, when Gabriel tells a startled Mary that the power of God will overshadow her. [For more on this, and the invitation God extends to us to be a habitation for the holy, see this post: Transfiguration Sunday: Show and (Don’t) Tell.]

For blessings and other reflections for this final Sunday after Epiphany, I invite you to visit earlier reflections that I created for you. You can begin by visiting last year’s post for Transfiguration Sunday, which includes links to previous writings; I’ve included a link to that post below. Or you can simply enter “Transfiguration” into the search bar in the upper right corner of this page.

Thanks to everyone who’s registered for the online Lenten retreat! I am eagerly looking forward to sharing the season with you. If you haven’t signed up, I would love for you to join us. The info is below.

Blessings to you, and may the Spirit overshadow you and enfold you with peace.

A Lenten Journey…

Beloved Lenten Retreat

Beloved Retreat: Are you hungry for an experience that draws you into Lent without feeling like it’s just one more thing to add to your schedule? Join us for this online retreat that easily fits into the rhythm (or chaos!) of your days, offering you an elegantly simple space to reflect on your journey and receive sustenance for your path. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this retreat is a great way to travel toward Easter, from anywhere you are. New for 2015! Visit Online Lenten Retreat for details and registration. Individual, group, & congregational rates available.

For previous reflections on Transfiguration Sunday, click the image or title below.

Transfiguration II
Transfiguration Sunday: When Glory

For a broken heart: With Valentine’s Day coming up, I want to share a blessing that I wrote last year for the first Valentine’s Day after Gary’s death. If February 14 is a tough day for you or for someone you know, I invite you to visit “A Blessing for the Brokenhearted” by clicking the image or title below.

Valentine
A Blessing for the Brokenhearted

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Overshadowing,” 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.

Epiphany 5: That All Be Made Well

February 1, 2015

For Joy
Image: For Joy © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany 5, Year B: Mark 1.29-39

He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up.
–Mark 1.31

People I love are hurting. So in light of this week’s passage from Mark’s Gospel, I wanted to write a blessing especially with them in mind—a blessing for healing, a big blessing, a blessing wide enough and deep enough to match their need.

What came was this: a blessing small enough to carry in the hand or in the heart. If you are in need, may this be for you a word in the wound, in the illness, in the ache. May you be made well.

And All Be Made Well
A Healing Blessing

That each ill
be released from you
and each sorrow
be shed from you
and each pain
be made comfort for you
and each wound
be made whole in you

that joy will
arise in you
and strength will
take hold of you
and hope will
take wing for you
and all be made well.

–Jan Richardson

For a previous reflection on this passage, visit The Domestic God.

Registration now open!

Beloved Lenten Retreat

Beloved Retreat: Are you hungry for an experience that draws you into Lent without feeling like it’s just one more thing to add to your schedule? Join us for this online retreat that easily fits into the rhythm (or chaos!) of your days, offering you an elegantly simple space to reflect on your journey and receive sustenance for your path. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this retreat is a great way to travel toward Easter, from anywhere you are. Visit Online Lenten Retreat for details and registration. Individual, group, & congregational rates available.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “For Joy,” 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.

Epiphany 4: Blessing for a Whole Heart

January 25, 2015

In Every Chamber of the Heart
Image: In Every Chamber of the Heart © Jan Richardson

Readings for Epiphany 4, Year B:
Deuteronomy 18.15-20Psalm 111, 1 Corinthians 8.1-13, Mark 1.21-28

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.
–Psalm 111.1

For the past year and a half I have been carrying a small piece of art in my purse. The size of a playing card, it’s a collage created by my friend Priscilla. Within the collage is a single word, printed in her handwriting:

Wholehearted

When Priscilla gave me the collage six months before Gary’s death, she could hardly have imagined how much I would need it, and how soon. I continue to carry it as a reminder and a prayer—not simply that my heart will be mended, but that even in the shattering, I will know there is a hidden wholeness that has already taken hold. This wholeness is a mystery I catch only in glimpses. But when I look at Priscilla’s word, I see not only a plea but also a blessing, a declaration of something that, in God’s strange timing, has already come about, and that I hope to live into.

This week, the lectionary gives us these same kinds of glimpses. Each reading offers a window onto what it means to have a whole heart, to live in a way that recognizes that, broken though we may be, God sees us complete and is about the work of helping us live into that completeness, not just for ourselves but for and with one another. Deuteronomy’s injunction against any prophet whose heart turns toward false gods, the psalmist’s wholehearted cry of thanksgiving to the God who sends redemption, Paul’s words that call the church at Corinth to be mindful of how their individual choices have consequences for the health of the whole community, and Jesus’ healing of a man with an unclean spirit: each of these passages shows us something of the wholeness in which God created us, and is working out within us.

This week, how might it be to open your heart—no matter how broken—to the One who sees you whole?

Blessing for a Whole Heart

You think
if you could just
imagine it,
that would be a beginning;
that if you could envision
what it would look like,
that would be a step
toward a heart
made whole.

This blessing
is for when
you cannot imagine.
This is for when
it is difficult to dream
of what could lie beyond
the fracture, the rupture,
the cleaving through which
has come a life
you do not recognize
as your own.

When all that inhabits you
feels foreign,
your heart made strange
and beating a broken
and unfamiliar cadence,
let there come
a word of solace,
a voice that speaks
into the shattering,

reminding you
that who you are
is here,
every shard
somehow holding
the whole of you
that you cannot see
but is taking shape
even now,
piece joining to piece
in an ancient,
remembered rhythm

that bears you
not toward restoration,
not toward return—
as if you could somehow
become unchanged—
but steadily deeper
into the heart of the one
who has already dreamed you
complete.

– Jan Richardson

For previous reflections on this week’s gospel reading, visit these posts:

Epiphany 4: Blessing in the Chaos
Epiphany 4: In the Realm of the Spirits

Registration now open!

Beloved Lenten Retreat

Beloved Retreat: Are you hungry for an experience that draws you into Lent without feeling like it’s just one more thing to add to your schedule? Join us for this online retreat that easily fits into the rhythm (or chaos!) of your days, offering you an elegantly simple space to reflect on your journey and receive sustenance for your path. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this retreat is a great way to travel toward Easter, from anywhere you are. Click Online Lenten Retreat for details and registration. Individual, group, & congregational rates available.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “In Every Chamber of the Heart,” 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.

Baptism of Jesus: Beginning with Beloved

January 6, 2015

Blessing the BaptismImage: Blessing the Baptism © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany 1/Baptism of Jesus: Mark 1.4-11

And just as he was coming up out of the water,
he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending
like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my Son, the Beloved.”
–Mark 1.10-11

Beginning with Beloved
A Blessing

Begin here:

Beloved.

Is there any other word
needs saying,
any other blessing
could compare
with this name,
this knowing?

Beloved.

Comes like a mercy
to the ear that has never
heard it.
Comes like a river
to the body that has never
seen such grace.

Beloved.

Comes holy
to the heart
aching to be new.
Comes healing
to the soul
wanting to begin
again.

Beloved.

Keep saying it
and though it may
sound strange at first,
watch how it becomes
part of you,
how it becomes you,
as if you never
could have known yourself
anything else,
as if you could ever
have been other
than this:

Beloved.

–Jan Richardson

P.S. I have a number of previous reflections on the Baptism of Jesus; for links, visit this post: Baptism of Jesus: Washed.

A Gift for You…

Wise Women Also Came

Celebrating Women’s Christmas: Originating in Ireland, Women’s Christmas is celebrated on Epiphany (January 6) as an occasion to take a break at the end of the holidays. I’ve created a new retreat as a gift especially for you to use on Women’s Christmas—or whenever you’re in need of some time to reflect and rest. The retreat is available to download as a PDF at no cost. You can find the retreat by visiting this post on my Sanctuary of Women blog:

Women’s Christmas 2015: Illuminating the Threshold


Using Jan’s artwork…

To use the image “Blessing the Baptism,” 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.

And the Table Will Be Wide

September 30, 2012

The Best Supper
The Best Supper
© Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels for World Communion Sunday
& Proper 22/Ordinary 27/Pentecost +19, Year B: Mark 10.2-16

“Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
―Mark 10.15-16

And the Table Will Be Wide
A Blessing for World Communion Sunday

And the table
will be wide.
And the welcome
will be wide.
And the arms
will open wide
to gather us in.
And our hearts
will open wide
to receive.

And we will come
as children who trust
there is enough.
And we will come
unhindered and free.
And our aching
will be met
with bread.
And our sorrow
will be met
with wine.

And we will open our hands
to the feast
without shame.
And we will turn
toward each other
without fear.
And we will give up
our appetite
for despair.
And we will taste
and know
of delight.

And we will become bread
for a hungering world.
And we will become drink
for those who thirst.
And the blessed
will become the blessing.
And everywhere
will be the feast.

– Jan Richardson

For a previous reflection on World Communion Sunday, visit The Best Supper, which includes “Table Blessing.” And Happy Feast of St. Francis this week! For a reflection on this beloved saint, whose day is October 4, visit Feast of St. Francis.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “The Best Supper,” 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.

I also want to invite you to visit the Calendar page on my main website, where you’ll find a listing of events that Gary and I will be involved with during the coming months and beyond. We’re excited about connecting with folks at gatherings that will take us across the country and back again, and we’re especially looking forward to collaborating in cyberspace to offer you an online retreat for Advent and Christmas. Wherever you are, we would love to share some sacred space with you!

Salted with Fire

September 25, 2012

Salted with Fire © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Proper 21/Ordinary 26/Pentecost +18, Year B (September 30): Mark 9.38-50

“For everyone will be salted with fire.”
—Mark 9.49

I’m back home after a season of away-ness, having given much of the summer to events that took Gary and me across the country and back again. From Washington State, where we had another great experience with the Liturgical Arts Week at the Grünewald Guild, to right down the road in Kissimmee, where I was the preacher for the opening worship service of the Churchwide Gathering of Presbyterian Women, it has been a wondrous season of pouring out as well as being renewed by the rich connections found along the way.

Along with the resting and catching up that are crucial after the past season, I’m returning to the studio and am relieved to be settling back in at my drafting table. I don’t have many words yet; like me, they’re doing some resting, too, and shoring up their energies for the outpouring that the autumn and Advent will bring. But I wanted to share this image that came as I reflected on this Sunday’s gospel lection from Mark.

As I created the “Salted with Fire” piece, I thought of how potters know what happens when salt is added to the fire. Thrown into the kiln, this elemental essence alters the surface of the pot in a fashion that cannot be entirely predicted or controlled. The potter has to trust that when the salt is given to the fire, it will do its work; that, blessed by the intention and focus the potter brings, the salt will make a way for the wild beauty that will come.

Blessing of Salt and Fire

And so, in this season,
may we give ourselves
to the fire
that shows us
what is elemental
and sacramental,
that reveals what remains
after all that does not have
substance or savor
falls away.

May we turn
our eyes
our ears
our hands
to the beauty
for which we were formed
and bear with grace
the patterns
that blossom upon us
who live salted
and singed.

[To use the image “Salted with Fire,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

Come Away and Rest

July 15, 2012

Come Away and Rest © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Pentecost +8, Year B (July 22): Mark 6.30-34, 53-56

Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inwards in prayer
for five short minutes.

Etty Hillesum

He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves
and rest a while.”

―Mark 6.31

Before I wrote this blessing I took a nap. Spent time with a novel. Lay on the couch and looked out on the sunlit street. Made a cup of tea. Breathed.

I do not know what restores you, where you take your rest, how you find the sustenance that enables you to meet those who wait for you with their insistent hungers. But whatever it is, whatever soothes you and brings you solace, may you find it in the rhythm of this day, as close as the beating of your heart, as quiet as the space between the beats.

Blessing of Rest

Curl this blessing
beneath your head
for a pillow.
Wrap it about yourself
for a blanket.
Lay it across your eyes
and for this moment
cease thinking about
what comes next,
what you will do
when you rise.

Let this blessing
gather itself to you
like the stillness
that descends
between your heartbeats,
the silence that comes
so briefly
but with a constancy
on which
your life depends.

Settle yourself
into the quiet
this blessing brings,
the hand it lays
upon your brow,
the whispered word
it breathes into
your ear
telling you
all shall be well
all shall be well
and you can rest
now.

P.S. Sunday, July 22, is also the Feast of Mary Magdalene! Last year, Gary and I collaborated on a video slide show in celebration of the Magdalene. Click the thumbnail below to see The Hours of Mary Magdalene on Vimeo, and may you have a splendid feast day.

[To use the image “Come Away and Rest,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]