Lead Us, God of Pilgrimage

I am preparing to go on a pilgrimage with The Academy for Spiritual Formation. We’ll be traveling to Ireland in early July, visiting places associated with St. Kevin, St. Brigid, St. Patrick, and St. Columba. I hope to be sharing photos, prayers, and reflections from the road. This prayer is for all of us preparing for pilgrimage.

We stand on the shore
Waiting to climb into the coracle
That will take us on this pilgrimage.

We have our itineraries, our passports,
Our credit cards and bank cards,
Our cell phones, bags, and suitcases.
We think we know where we are going
And when we will return.

But on this trip, on this pilgrimage,
We need only our eyes, our ears,
Our minds, our hearts.
Where will you take us, Spirit?
And when we return to this place,
Will we be the same?

Guide us as we climb into this coracle
And give ourselves over to the waves
And the wind and the currents.
Lead us, God of Pilgrimage,
To where you would have us go.

What pilgrimage are you anticipating?

The Legacy of Hatred

Each day I see the legacy of hatred
Written across my screen,
Displayed in videos.
It enters my car in voices on the radio.

Fists raised in anger.
Dueling pundits on cable TV.
The latest shooting.
Marching crowds and candlelit vigils.
Mothers weeping over children, slain.

I confess …
This legacy of hatred lives in me.
It flares out in traffic jams
And simmers inside my clenched jaws.
It plays out in my heart and mind
In unspoken judgments and harsh criticisms.

Wise ones,
How did you learn to love?
How did you learn to let go of
Wrongs done,
Raging resentments?

Holy One, you said that I should love my enemies
And pray for those who persecute me.

Have mercy on me, Gentle One,
For I don’t know how to love.

St. Columba

Today is the feast day of St. Columba, the Irish monk who established the community of Iona in 565.

Let me bless almighty God,
whose power extends over
sea and land,
whose angels watch over all.

Let me study sacred books
to calm my soul;
I pray for peace,
kneeling at heaven’s gates.

Let me do my daily work,
gathering seaweed,
catching fish,
giving food to the poor.

Let me say my daily prayers,
sometimes chanting,
sometimes quiet,
always thanking God.

Delightful it is
to live on a peaceful isle,
in a quiet cell,
serving the King of kings.

– Columba
Celtic Fire: The Passionate Religious Vision of Ancient Britain and Ireland edited by Robert Van de Weyer

Learn more about Columba and other Celtic saints in Celtic Saints in Holy Companions: Spiritual Practices from the Celtic Saints by Mary C. Earle and Sylvia Maddox.

Did you know that my book, Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings, is now available as an audio book?


Photo: Sheep on the isle of Iona. © 2016 by Beth A. Richardson. This photo and others by Beth are available on cards, cases, and other items at Redbubble.

How Can We


How can we
Withstand
The chaos

The unravelling of
Sanity
Values
Order

Some days it feels that
We are so broken
We can never be healed

And still
In this violent
Confusing
Aching world

You send your Spirit
Tongues of flame
To remind us

That however alone
Distressed
Abandoned
We may feel
You are with us

A Fitting End

Yesterday in The Upper Room Chapel we held a service of celebration for Alive Now, the beloved publication which began in 1971 and ceased publication at the end of April, 2017.

Ron Patterson, Alive Now’s founding editor, came to be with us, along with former Alive Now staffers Pamela Crosby and Deen Thompson. All of the prayers, hymns, and stories in the service had been published in the magazine at some time its 47 years.

Ron sent us out from the service by reading the blessing I wrote for the last issue of the magazine. “Bless This Journey.” As I stood and listened to my words proclaimed by Ron, it seemed just right. The first editor and the last editor, joined together in love, in grief, in the certainty that God travels with us and guides us, even now, into uncertain futures.

Bless This Journey

We stand at the threshold and look behind us
At all that we have done,
At all that we have loved,
At all that is familiar,
And our hearts fill with grief,
With sadness,
With gratitude.

We stand at the threshold and look before us
At the future we can and cannot see,
At the beginnings we can and cannot imagine,
At the possibilities we can and cannot know,
And our hearts fill with fear,
With trust,
With hope.

Bless our grief and our gratitude,
Our sadness and our trust,
Our fear and our hope.

Bless this journey,
God of past and future.
Guide our steps,
Walking beside us,
Before us, within us
As we step across this threshold.

“Bless This Journey,” from Alive Now, M/A 2017. Copyright © 2017 by The Upper Room.

A Season of Blooms

In this season of blooms,
The hard work
Of birthing, growing, transformation,
Forgotten in the moment of metamorphosis.

God’s miracle of creation
Illustrated in color,
In delicate arrangement
Of petal, pistil, stamen,
Proclaiming life.

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One who created me,
Who shaped me before I was born,
Be in my heart, my mind,
Be in my voice, my hands,
As I step into this new job.
I am yours.

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This week I began a new position at The Upper Room: Director of Prayer and Upper Room Worship Life. I continue to mourn the loss of Weavings and Alive Now, but I remain grateful for the ways these publications shaped me and live on in the person I have become.