Resilient

I sit down to write
And no words come.

I am tired,
Discouraged,
Overwhelmed by the never-ending
Reports of disasters and tragedies.
Weighed down
By too-much bad news.

Make me resilient
Like the grass whose seeds
Sprout and put down roots
In ancient stones.

Take heart.
Take root.
Love.
Live.
Trust.


I took this photo in Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. This grass grew in the ruins of St. Mary’s Church. Built in the 10th century, this was the place of worship for the nuns of the monastic settlement which grew up around Kevin of Glendalough.

A Blessing of the Empty Space

I pulled this blessing out of my book. I’m needing it today on this anniversary of my dad’s death. Bless all who mourn today.

You sit in the empty place that is left,
After the death, the arrangements, the service,
The cards and calls and e-mails,
The departure of family,
The thank-yous and acknowledgments.

Left with the emptiness,
The space that can never be filled
In quite the same way.

You see a shadow, hear a sound,
Taste a food they used to love,
Start to tell them something about your day,
Smell a blanket or sweater,
And your eyes and heart fill with tears.

The first week, the first month, the first birthday,
The first holiday, the first anniversary,
These bring you to the place of remembering,
The place of exquisite, lonely sorrow.
Bless you and your memories.
Bless the tender heart that beats within you.
Bless the empty space that can never be filled.

The shadows, the smells, the tastes, the thoughts,
Transform their pain into blessings,
Signs that though you live in that desperately empty place,
Your loved ones accompany you,
Laugh in the shelter of your heart.

The empty place
That can never be filled
In quite the same way
Is filled
With love.

From Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings by Beth A. Richardson. Copyright © 2015 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. The picture is of my parents and me.

Our Strength, Our Hope

Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art.
-Charles Wesley
“Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”

Jesus, Child of God, you are our strength, our hope, our comfort, and our consolation. You are, indeed, the hope of the world. Send your strength and healing to every broken place, every despondent heart.

From Child of the Light by Beth A. Richardson. © 2005 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books.

Photo: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland.

A Blessing for the Season

Harvest

With grateful thanks
We receive the bounty of this earth.

Giver of plenty,
You are the source of
Plants and meat,
Milk and herbs,
Clean water and safe homes.

Bless this harvest,
Its beautiful colors.
Bless this bounty,
Its nourishing substance.

Bless the livestock
And those who keep them.
Bless the farmers, the workers,
The gleaners, far and near.

Bless the hungry,
Those who have no homes,
Those displaced by drought or violence.
Give succor to the people in their need.

Bless this world and all its creatures.
All that we are,
All that we have,
Are gifts of your creation.

From my book Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings.

A Blessing for All Saints Day

On the Ireland Pilgrimage in July, we visited the ruins of the monastic community of Glendalough. There in the 6th and 7th century, Christians lived and died, sang and prayed, loved one another. We spent a day walking through the city, ending in the ruins of the Saint Mary’s church, the place where the religious women would have worshiped. We had a eucharist service there, led by women.

I went back early the next morning to record this blessing for All Saints Day that is in my book. I’m so grateful to be able to share it with you.

For more information on my book, learn more.

Day of Prayer for the Healing of the World

On Wednesday we will welcome Morgan Stafford as our preacher in The Upper Room Chapel. Morgan is working with the Tennessee Annual Conference as a Cross-Cultural Strategist. He will be preaching on “Will We Welcome”?

The service, at 10:45 a.m., is one part of a Day of Prayer for the Healing of the World. We will be gathering as a staff for a day of pray for the world, for our nations and leaders, for our churches, for our communities, families, and friends. We invite your participation from wherever you are. We hope you will send us your prayers for the world so that they may be a part of this day. Share your prayers with us.

Join us in body or spirit on Wednesday, October 18, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (CDT). 1908 Grand Avenue, Nashville, TN 37212.

Surviving Exile

By the rivers of Babylon—
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our harps.
For there our captors
asked us for songs,
and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
How could we sing the Lord’s song
in a foreign land?
– Psalm 137:1-4, NRSV

I am wondering,
How do I navigate,
How do I survive,
How do I continue to live
In this time of Exile?

And then I think
Of all those
Who have lived in Exile
In this country
For centuries.

Let us hang on to
Community.
Hope.
Love.
Laughter.
Courage.
Trust.

Let us know when to
Take action.
Stay in the present moment.
Go outside.
Take a media break.
Remember the long view.

How shall we sing
The song of the Holy One
In this foreign land?

What are the scriptures, the songs, the poems that you hold on to? That ground you these days?