Archive for the ‘mystery’ Category

The Cure for Sorrow – Publication Day!

November 15, 2016

The Cure for Sorrow
A blessing helps us to keep breathing—

to abide this moment, and the next moment,
and the one after that.
—from the Introduction

Friends, I am so grateful to be able to tell you this news: it’s publication day! My new book, The Cure for Sorrow, has just been released today, and I would love to share it with you.

If you live with grief, you know what a wild mix it can be—how terrible and how graced it is, how it opens our hearts even as it breaks them. The Cure for Sorrow bears witness to this wild mix. Every page is infused with the rending, the solace, and the hope that are present in our grieving. The book offers a space of blessing in the midst of it all.

One of the places you can find The Cure for Sorrow is on my website, where we are delighted to offer inscribed copies by request. To order, just click the book cover above or this link: The Cure for Sorrow. (A side note for folks ordering from Amazon: if the book’s page tells you it ships in 1-2 months, pay no attention! That’s a glitch, and Amazon will be shipping them shortly.)

On this publication day, I am grateful beyond measure for your companionship and support that have helped make this book possible. I wish you deep peace and so many blessings.

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.

Announcing “The Cure for Sorrow”!

September 21, 2016

The Cure for Sorrow
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

O my friends. I never hoped to write this book. But here it is, about to make its way into the world this fall.

The Cure for Sorrow is a book of blessings for times of grief. It is infused with everything that has been present to me in the wake of Gary’s death nearly three years ago now. The aching sorrow, the stubborn hope, the anger and bewilderment, the beauty, the wild grace, the unrelenting love: all of it intertwines on every page.

This book acknowledges that mourning is hardly a tidy process. Rather than an orderly, predictable progression of stages, grief is a horribly messy undoing of us. If we can allow ourselves to pay attention to it, grief holds the power to remake us in ways we never imagined. With blessings that speak to the rending of grief, the presence of solace, and the tenacity of hope, The Cure for Sorrow is a companion on that journey.

Most of all, this book is a gift from my broken and hopeful heart to yours. I would love to share it with you.

The Cure for Sorrow will release on November 15. You can pre-order it on Amazon by clicking the cover above or this link: The Cure for Sorrow. It’s available for pre-order in hardcover and on Kindle. On November 15, it will be available also on my website at janrichardson.com, where you will be able to order inscribed copies.

I am so grateful for the ways you continue to be a blessing on my path. Deep peace to you.

Epiphany: For Those Who Have Far to Travel

January 2, 2016

TheWiseOnesImage: The Wise Ones © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels for Epiphany: Matthew 2.1-12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born
in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East
came to Jerusalem.

—Matthew 2.1

For Those Who Have Far to Travel
A Blessing for Epiphany

If you could see
the journey whole,
you might never
undertake it,
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not.

Call it
one of the mercies
of the road:
that we see it
only by stages
as it opens
before us,
as it comes into
our keeping,
step by
single step.

There is nothing
for it
but to go,
and by our going
take the vows
the pilgrim takes:

to be faithful to
the next step;
to rely on more
than the map;
to heed the signposts
of intuition and dream;
to follow the star
that only you
will recognize;

to keep an open eye
for the wonders that
attend the path;
to press on
beyond distractions,
beyond fatigue,
beyond what would
tempt you
from the way.

There are vows
that only you
will know:
the secret promises
for your particular path
and the new ones
you will need to make
when the road
is revealed
by turns
you could not
have foreseen.

Keep them, break them,
make them again;
each promise becomes
part of the path,
each choice creates
the road
that will take you
to the place
where at last
you will kneel

to offer the gift
most needed—
the gift that only you
can give—
before turning to go
home by
another way.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace


EPIPHANY UPDATE:
I have a gift for you! My new retreat for Women’s Christmas (which some folks in Ireland and beyond celebrate on Epiphany/January 6) is hot off the press. It’s a retreat that you can download at no cost and use anytime you wish throughout the year. For a link to the retreat and more about Women’s Christmas, click the Wise Women image or the title below:

Wise Women Also Came
Women’s Christmas 2016: Home By Another Way

I would love for you to pass along the gift by sharing the link with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, or any other way you’re connected.

New from Jan Richardson
CIRCLE OF GRACE: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

Circle of GraceWithin the struggle, joy, pain, and delight that attend our life, there is an invisible circle of grace that enfolds and encompasses us in every moment. Blessings help us to perceive this circle of grace, to find our place of belonging within it, and to receive the strength the circle holds for us. from the Introduction

Beginning in Advent and moving through the sacred seasons of the Christian year, Circle of Grace offers Jan’s distinctive and poetic blessings that illuminate the treasures each season offers to us. A beautiful gift for the new year. Available in print and ebook.

Order the book

 

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “The Wise Ones,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Advent special! During this season, subscribe to Jan Richardson Images and receive unlimited digital downloads for only $125 per year (regularly $165). Click Subscribe to sign up. (Extended through Epiphany!)

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.

Announcing “Circle of Grace”!

November 20, 2015

Circle of Grace

Friends, I am delighted to share the news that my new book is here! Circle of Grace is a collection of blessings for the seasons, drawing us into the rhythms of the sacred Christian year.

The book was released on November 17—Gary’s birthday. In two weeks he will have been gone two years. And yet he is such a part of this book. He saw nearly every blessing first, and we had dreamed of this book together. His spirit sings in every page.

So from my heart, from Gary’s heart, into yours: this is for you. Each blessing and every word of it. Thank you for being so beautifully part of my—and our—circle of grace.

To order Circle of Grace: You can order the book from Amazon by clicking the book cover above or this link: Circle of Grace. It’s available in both printed and Kindle formats. Beginning Monday, November 23, the book will also be available at my website at janrichardson.com, where you can request inscribed copies.

On this day, as Advent draws near, I want to share this blessing from the book with you, in gratitude.

Drawing Near
A Blessing for Advent

It is difficult to see it from here,
I know,
but trust me when I say
this blessing is inscribed
on the horizon.
Is written on
that far point
you can hardly see.
Is etched into
a landscape
whose contours you cannot know
from here.
All you know
is that it calls you,
draws you,
pulls you toward
what you have perceived
only in pieces,
in fragments that came to you
in dreaming
or in prayer.

I cannot account for how,
as you draw near,
the blessing embedded in the horizon
begins to blossom
upon the soles of your feet,
shimmers in your two hands.
It is one of the mysteries
of the road,
how the blessing
you have traveled toward,
waited for,
ached for
suddenly appears,
as if it had been with you
all this time,
as if it simply
needed to know
how far you were willing
to walk
to find the lines
that were traced upon you
before the day
you were born.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace

For Those Who Walked With Us

October 29, 2013


Image: A Gathering of Spirits © Jan L. Richardson

Here in Florida, our summer weather has extended well into October this year. The temperature finally did drop noticeably near the end of last week—on the precise day that Gary and I left the state to head to California, where we were leading a weekend retreat and Sunday worship with the marvelous community at Los Altos United Methodist Church. Not surprisingly, we had beautiful weather there, so we didn’t feel shortchanged. It’s warmed up again now that we’ve returned home, but even so, there’s a shift in the light and in the feel of these days that lets us know that autumn is arriving at last.

I’m especially loving entering into this week that holds some festive days. I’ve written here previously (Feast of All Saints: A Gathering of Spirits) that the trinity of days of Halloween, the Feast of All Saints, and the Feast of All Souls has long been a favorite time for me—a thin place in the turning of the year. These days are haunted for me in a good way; they offer an occasion to remember, to reflect, and to offer thanks for those who have shaped my path by the path that they walked. These days remind us that in the body of Christ, death does not release us from being in community with one another.

In celebration, I’m offering a blessing that I wrote for an All Saints reflection in my book In Wisdom’s Path. I’m thrilled to share that the splendid composer James Clemens used this blessing for a beautiful choral setting, which was published this year by World Library Publications. You can listen to a gorgeous sample by going to this page on the WLP website, then clicking the “listen” tab (by the “use” tab).

As you listen, and as you move through this week, who lingers close in your memory? Who walked with you in a way that inspired and made possible the path that you travel? Remembering that in these days, the veil thins not only toward the past but also toward the future, how are you walking through this life in a way that will help make possible the paths of those who follow?

Blessings to you in these sacred days.

For Those Who Walked With Us

For those
who walked with us,
this is a prayer.

For those
who have gone ahead,
this is a blessing.

For those
who touched and tended us,
who lingered with us
while they lived,
this is a thanksgiving.

For those
who journey still with us
in the shadows of awareness,
in the crevices of memory,
in the landscape of our dreams,
this is a benediction.

For a related post and blessing, visit On the Eve of All Hallows at my Devotion Café blog.

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! Just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section when you click the link to the image on the JRI site.) 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. If you’re using them in a worship bulletin, please include this info in a credit line:
© Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com.

Day 6: I Will Bless Her

February 24, 2012

I Will Bless Her © Jan L. Richardson (click image to enlarge)

I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations.
—Genesis 17.16b

From a lectionary reading for Lent 2: Genesis 17.1-7, 15-16

Reflection for Tuesday, February 28 (Day 6 of Lent)

In my studio, a piece of work may lie dormant for a long, long time. A scrap of an idea, a shred of painted paper, a pattern: it shimmers for a moment, then says wait. Months pass, years, and suddenly it comes to life. It lands next to another scrap that causes me to see it differently, or a shift in my style enables me to know what to do with it now, or the sheer passage of time does its work, and now the piece is ready—or, finally, I am.

But to experience this awakening in one’s body, to know old dreams blazing anew in one’s own flesh, to feel the sensation of life making itself known within the wilderness of a womb that has ached for birthing for years, for decades, long beyond all reason… Who can fathom how life takes hold in the places we had stopped looking?

Hildegard of Bingen, that great medieval mystic, had a word for it: veriditas. The greening power of God.

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

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I Will Remember: On the Eve of Ash Wednesday

February 14, 2012

I Will Remember My Covenant © Jan L. Richardson

I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.
—Genesis 9.15

From a lectionary reading for Lent 1: Genesis 9.8-17

Reflection for Tuesday, February 21

On a day years ago when I was dealing with a vexatious situation—a tussle with an institutional system, as I recall—I spent some time talking with Gary. Gifted at thinking through things with me, Gary mostly listened and helped me name some possible options for moving forward. Then, as we were finishing the conversation, Gary said to me, “The thing to remember here, Jan, is that I am on your side.”

I am on your side.

For those who don’t know me, let me say this: I was past forty when I married, nearly two years ago now. A fervently focused person from the time I was a child, I have been a Woman With A Plan—even when the plan was changing—nearly all my adult life. I enjoyed being in relationship—when it wasn’t breaking my heart, that is—but prized my independence and understood the importance of finding and making a life that I loved, one in which my sense of wholeness didn’t rely on being involved with someone else.

I will tell you that after Gary showed up, I realized I had vastly underestimated the kind of claim that a relationship could have on me. More than a decade later, I continue to marvel at the strangely wondrous state of being so met by another person. In a relationship that’s grounded in that mutual sense of being met, I have come to see how it’s possible to become intertwined and tangled up with another in ways that do not confine and limit us but instead help us to know ourselves more clearly, open doorways to paths we had not imagined on our own, and draw us deeper into who God has created us to be.

I am on your side.

The narrative of Noah is, among other things, an amazing story of the God who chooses to become tangled up with us, who takes our side, who risks casting God’s lot with us. It is a Big Deal on God’s part to make such a covenant. Yet as I spiral back around this story, it occurs to me that for Noah to accept this is no small thing.

To be sure, God is insistent about binding Godself to Noah, along with his family and his descendants. In this passage, God speaks the word covenant seven times, the repetition becoming something of a litany as God tells Noah—again and again—what God is doing. I am establishing my covenant with you, God says. This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you, God emphasizes. I will remember my covenant, God insists. And so forth, until God decides that it has sunk in; that Noah gets it.

But a covenant does not run in one direction, and Noah must choose whether he in fact wants to be a party to this covenant, to receive this marvel that is wondrous but weighty. He must decide whether he wants to be so claimed by God, and whether the God who wants to take his side is offering a relationship that will be a cage that makes him smaller or a home that frees him to be who he is.

Tomorrow, as we cross the threshold into Lent, we will hear the words of the prophet Joel as he tells us, “Rend your hearts.” We, like Noah, can choose to do this, to turn toward God, because God has already opened God’s own heart to us. God keeps letting God’s heart break for us. Keeps choosing to become bound to us. To become entangled with us. To covenant with us and with creation and with those who will come after us.  Keeps taking our side even when we have wandered into the far country, bent on a path of our own stubborn choosing. In this season God asks us, invites us, dares us to let ourselves be claimed.

Here on the threshold of Lent, who or what have you allowed to claim you? Do you find yourself becoming more free, more yourself in this claiming, or more confined? Where do you find the presence of God in the connections that hold you? Are there any entanglements that God might be inviting you to look at in this coming season? What do you resist inviting God to claim in your life?

As we enter into Lent, may this season draw you closer to the One who persists in seeking us out. Blessings.

[To use the “I Will Remember My Covenant” image, please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

Inspired: On the Feast of All Saints

October 29, 2011


A Gathering of Spirits © Jan L. Richardson

I’m recently back from a fantastic trip to Kansas City to see my friends and artist-heroes, Peg and Chuck Hoffman. The trip was, in large measure, an occasion to experience some “art reinvigoration,” as Peg put it—sort of a spa vacation for my inner artist. Coming in the midst of some fallow time and creative shifts in the studio, my visit to Kansas City provided marvelous sustenance for my eyes and my creative soul.

I spent time in the studio with Peg and Chuck, where we did some painting on the World Canvas Project. The World Canvas has grown out of Peg and Chuck’s experience in working in such places as Belfast, Northern Ireland; Chuck has created a beautiful blog about the World Canvas, where you can have a glimpse of the project and our painting session at this post that Chuck recently added: Blessings.

Peg and I spent an afternoon doing “retail research,” which featured a splendid browse through Anthropologie (be sure to check out their visually inspiring Tumblr-powered site at the Anthropologist). Chuck and I made a trip to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where, as it happened, there’s currently an exhibition of prints by Romare Bearden, best known for his collage work and who has been a source of inspiration for me. We found artful treasures at used bookstores; visited Peg and Chuck’s church that features liturgical art by Richard Caemmerer (cofounder of the Grünewald Guild); had a pivotal conversation while sitting on the floor of their prayer room one morning, looking at images and dreaming of books to be born; and savored time at tasty tables where we talked about the wonders and challenges of living at the intersection of art and faith.

In the creative life, it can sometimes feel like we are laboring alone. My vocation as an artist and writer—and my natural disposition—requires a goodly measure of solitude in order to be present to and tend what’s trying to come forth. And of course the experience of feeling like we’re alone isn’t limited to those who work as artists or in other professions that are obviously creative. My time with Peg and Chuck underscored for me how important it is for us—regardless of our vocation—to stay close to our sources of inspiration: the people and places and practices that help us know who we are and what God has called each of us to do and to be in this world. It is crucial to connect with those who can provide insight and energy and encouragement for this work.

We’re coming up on a day that reminds us of all this. The Feast of All Saints on November 1—one of my favorite days in the Christian calendar—invites us to remember that although we are each called to some measure of solitude in order to discern what God wants to bring forth in our lives, we never go about this entirely alone. All Saints Day is an occasion to celebrate and revisit the faithful who have gone before us (and not just those who have been canonically designated as saints), those whose lives provide inspiration for us who follow on the path. The saints, who are not models of perfection but rather people who opened themselves to the ways that God sought to work in and through their particular lives and gifts, invite us not to copy their lives but to draw encouragement from them as we seek to let God do this same work in our own particular lives.

So where are you finding inspiration these days? Who provides encouragement on your path? How have you seen the Spirit work through the gifts of another in a way that helps you trust that the Spirit will work through your own gifts? Who helps you remember you are not alone?

Prayer

God of the generations,
when we set our hands to labor,
thinking we work alone,
remind us that we carry
on our lips
the words of prophets,
in our veins
the blood of martyrs,
in our eyes
the mystics’ visions,
in our hands
the strength of thousands.

A blessed All Saints Day to you! On this day, in this season, in the company of the communion of saints, may you find yourself in a thin, thin place where heaven and earth meet and you receive what you need for the path ahead.

[The “God of the generations” prayer is from my book In Wisdom’s Path: Discovering the Sacred in Every Season.]

P.S. For an earlier reflection on All Saints, see Feast of All Saints: A Gathering of Spirits. For a related post, visit On the Feast of All Souls at my Sanctuary of Women blog.

For a reflection on the gospel lection (Matthew 25.1-13) for November 6, click the image or title below:

Midnight Oil

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

A Portable Cathedral for the 21st Century

June 17, 2011

“Although some may find Ordinary Time a lackluster season, I’ve grown fond of it for the ways that it invites me to discover the sacred in the rhythms of unbroken dailiness. Waking, eating, reading the paper, working, playing, talking, doing laundry, doing dishes, doing errands, doing nothing at all: how is God with us in these times? Who is God with us in these times?” —From In Wisdom’s Path: Discovering the Sacred in Every Season

As we approach the season of Ordinary Time, I am thrilled to share that my book In Wisdom’s Path has just been released as an ebook! With original artwork, reflections, poetry, and prayers, In Wisdom’s Path invites the reader to enter into the rhythms of the Christian year. From the contemplative “Cave of the Heart” in Advent to the “Daily Way” of Ordinary Time, the book serves as a companion through the unfolding seasons of the sacred year.

First published in 2000, the book is now available in a PDF format that brings the beautiful, full-color layout—designed by my splendid art director, Martha Clark-Plank—from the printed page to the screen. Read it on your computer or, better yet, on your iPad, Nook Color, or other portable reader, so you can always have it with you wherever you go!

As we release In Wisdom’s Path as an ebook, I find myself thinking of the exquisite illuminated prayerbooks of the Middle Ages called Books of Hours (which helped inspire The Painted Prayerbook blog!). Designed to enable folks to pray the same rhythm of prayer as the monks, nuns, and priests who prayed the Liturgy of the Hours, these prayerbooks typically were small enough to carry in a pocket or purse. This medieval prayerbook became, as one writer has put it, a “portable cathedral.” In pausing for a few moments and opening the book amidst whatever was going on, the owner entered into a sacred space—a thin place—for reflection and prayer.

In the spirit of these remarkable medieval prayerbooks, In Wisdom’s Path incorporates 21st-century technology to offer you a sacred space in our own time. We are pleased to provide this book for you in a format that you can download and take with you anywhere to find moments of respite and renewal in the rhythm of your day.

For more info and to purchase the ebook, visit the Books page at janrichardson.com.

P.S. In other book news, In the Sanctuary of Women was recently named a winner in the 2011 National Indie Excellence Book Awards! More info over at the Sanctuary of Women blog.