Brigid of Kildare

The Feast Day of Brigid of Kildare is February 1. When we were in Ireland in July, we walked in Brigid’s footsteps in Kildare at her cathedral and at her well. But Brigid was everywhere we went, and it was in the west in County Donegal where we learned to make Brigid’s crosses and heard the story of how the cross of reeds became her symbol.

Brigid was explaining Christianity to her father and took up the reeds from the floor of the cottage and wove them into a cross. On St. Brigid’s day, people still make Brigid’s crosses and remember Brigid.

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.

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.

The Unexpected Blessing

You went out to walk your dog,
A giant, beautiful puppy,
Who wiggled in ways only puppies could.

I called out to you,
“Can I bless your dog?”

You didn’t run away.
You stepped onto the lawn with her.

You held her in your arms
And I began to pray,

Bless this creature,
Fashioned by the holy one
From the glimmer of stars
And the music of angels. …

I glanced at your face.
You were looking down at her,
Your eyes full of love,
Your countenance full of tenderness.

Bless this creature
And the human one
Who shares its life.

And I realized that
The blessings were spilling out
And splashing up
Over you.
Over me.

The blessings were
Filling this space,
Soothing weary, anxious hearts.

The blessings were touching the world,
The places of joy and of sorrow,
Of fear and of hope,
Of turmoil and of peace.

Bless this home.
Bless this life.
Bless this wonder.
Bless this love.
Bless this creature.

This miracle of life,
The opening up of hearts and spirits
To the gracious blessing of the holy one.

Bless this world
And all its creatures.

Photo: The blessing of Jack by his friend, Claire.

Blessings Upon Blessings


Probably the most fun I’ve ever had at work … Blessing the animals on St. Francis Day (October 4). We gathered on the lawn in front of The Upper Room Chapel. We blessed pets from the neighborhood and pets of staff people. We blessed pictures printed out and pulled up on phones. We blessed the dogs of people just walking by.

From our first guests at 4:00 p.m. (a 40-lb. tortoise named Barnes and a very brave cat named Freddie) to the folks who ran a red light to get here before we closed at 6:00, blessings were given and received.

Bless this creature,
Fashioned by the holy one
From the glimmer of stars
And the music of angels.

Bless this creature
And the human one
Who shares its life.

Bless this home.
Bless this life.
Bless this wonder.
Bless this love.
Bless this creature.

– Beth A. Richardson