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A Blessing for Transitions (from John O'Donohue)

A Blessing for Transitions (from John O'Donohue)

If I were only able to take three poems with me for the rest of my life, this would be one of them, from Irish poet and philosopher John O'Donohue:

“I would love to live

Like a river flows,

Carried by the surprise

Of its own unfolding.”

O’Donohue’s poem has helped shape my attitude as I entered this stage of my life -- my marriage to my now-husband which happened three weeks ago today -- a threshold to a new beginning, an occasion for a fresh perspective and fresh energy.

I love this poem so much that I made an art print out of it and displayed it on our tribute table, along with some other favorite quotes of ours, at the wedding.

(In the photo above, you can see a much younger version of my dad on the left, and my mom on the right with my brother Mark and I blowing out birthday candles. Photos of photos!)

It seemed like it was meant to be when one of my lovely readers emailed me with a blessing for marriage by the same poet.

Reading it, I couldn't help but feel that it's as appropriate today as it's ever been, that it speaks to more than just marriage but to our relationships with one another on a grander, human scale.

It's a blessing from O'Donohue's book, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessingsin which he writes:

“The word blessing evokes a sense of warmth and protection; it suggests that no life is alone or unreachable. Each life is clothed in raiment of spirit that secretly links it to everything else.”

I think his blessing for marriage is also a blessing for transitions of many kinds: a birth, a new job, a new lease on life.

With that, I'd like to pass it on in respect for whatever you find yourself moving through next. May you find that you don't have to go it alone.

“The word blessing evokes a sense of warmth and protection; it suggests that no life is alone or unreachable.” As this Irish poet shows us, a blessing for transitions (of many kinds) can hold us, guide us, and show us that we don't have to go it alone. We are meant to help and be helped along the way.

For Marriage: A Poem and a Blessing for Transitions

As spring unfolds the dream of the earth,

May you bring each other's hearts to birth.

 

As the ocean finds calm in view of land,

May you love the gaze of each other's mind.

 

As the wind arises free and wild,

May nothing negative control your lives.

 

As kindly as moonlight might search the dark,

So gentle may you be when light grows scarce.

 

As surprised as the silence that music opens,

May your words for each other be touched with reverence.

 

As warmly as the air draws in the light,

May you welcome each other's every gift.

 

As elegant as dream absorbing the night,

May sleep find you clear of anger and hurt.

 

As twilight harvests all the day's color,

May love bring you home to each other.

 

John O'Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us

Tell me in the comments:

If you could offer up one wish for someone else, or humanity as a whole, today and right now, what would your blessing be?

Mine would be: "May you feel the warmth that I have felt. May it flow like a river through your life."

I’d love it if you shared yours with me!

In friendship,

Jen

P.S. Want words like these in your inbox? Sign up for Tuesday emails and you'll also get my Healing Brave Manifesto (plus weekly giveaways) totally free.

Comments on this post (3)

  • Nov 08, 2021

    Jen,

    The poetry is beautiful.
    You have a beautiful table too.

    — Jim

  • Nov 06, 2021

    Jan, his words are like sunlight. I’m glad you feel it too!

    — Jennifer Williamson

  • Nov 06, 2021

    John o’Donohue is one of my favorite poets and his book,”To Bless the Space Between Us” is absolutely the best! I often send verses to friends going through illness, facing a change, grieving the death of a loved one. Thanks for reminding me about his powerful words!

    — Jan

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