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?

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.

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.

Bless to Me Worship Series

I’m so excited! My book was the inspiration for a 7-week worship series available from my friend, Marcia McFee and the Worship Design Studio.

If you are a pastor or worship leader, I hope you’ll consider the “Bless to Me” series for your church or faith community. The series is offered as a part of a “worship design starter kit” from Worship Design Studio. Or if you are already a subscriber to Worship Design Studio, the series is included as a part of your subscription.

“Take a virtual pilgrimage to Ireland this summer with new Worship Design Studio series ‘Bless to Me,’ a joyful exploration of what it means to see blessings in the world around us every day inspired by Beth A. Richardson’s Celtic Blessing poems.” From the “Bless to Me” landing page.

Thanks, Marcia. I’m grateful!


Photo © Beth A. Richardson. Pastoral scene near Taychreggan Inn, Argyll, Scotland. More photos from the Scotland trip.

Premier of “Requiem of Remembrance”

Some of you remember the prayer I wrote called “Some Days Are Very Hard.” I wrote it after a Facebook friend posted a response to one of Jack’s funny posts. She said that she appreciated Jack’s humor because “some days are very hard.” That phrase worked on me until it became the prayer that I wrote and which was included in my book.

I shared that prayer with a choir from Los Altos United Methodist Church in Los Altos, California. At the end of the retreat, T. Paul Rosas, the senior organist for the church, asked if he could use the words in a requiem that he was writing to commemorate the lives of family and friends.

He has completed the first segment of the requiem and it will premier tonight at the church’s Maundy Thursday service at 7:30 PDT.

[Update: 9:20 a.m.] [Update #2 — corrected times: 1:45 p.m.] The service will be live streamed from the church’s website. Tune in at 10:30 pm ET, 9:30 CT, and 8:30 MT 7:30 pm Pacific time. But even if you cannot watch, think and pray about the events of this day and of the premier of this beautiful musical piece “”#4 Dies Irae (Some Days Are Very Hard) by T. Paul Rosas. Thank you, Paul and Los Altos United Methodist Church. I’m deeply honored.

Here’s a video of the prayer that I recorded at Iona last year.

Hello, Sky

I step outside the airport
And greet the Oklahoma sky.
Hello, sky. It’s been a long time
Since I stood under you
And marveled at your vastness.

The wind is blowing, blowing, blowing.
The trees grow, pointing north.
Hello, wind. It’s been a long time
Since I felt your scouring power,
Your constant presence.

I drive to my lodging
And catch glimpses of the red clay.
Hello, red clay. It’s been a long time
Since I touched you,
Ground of my birth.

I am here. I am home.
My body, my cells,
My spirit remembers.


Friends in the Oklahoma area, I’d love to see you.

Friday, March 24, 7:00 p.m.
St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church, Norman, OK. I’ll be speaking about my book of Celtic-style blessings and reflecting on my own Celtic roots. For more information, contact ststephensumc@coxinet.net.

Saturday, March 25, 9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church, Norman, OK. Workshop on “Spiritual Tools for Survival.” For more information, or to register ($10 for lunch), contact ststephensumc@coxinet.net.

Sunday, March 26, 8:30 and 10:50 a.m.
St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church, Norman, OK. Preaching and joining in worship. For more information, contact ststephensumc@coxinet.net.

Tuesday, March 28, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Oklahoma City University. Gathering with area clergy for a time of listening. Contact me if you want more information.

Wednesday, March 29, 6:00 p.m.
Mosaic United Methodist Church, Oklahoma City, North campus. Preaching and leading worship for “Space for Grace” chapel service. A lite supper is served at 5:15 p.m. For more information, contact Mosaic at 405-751-0766.

Thursday, March 30, 3:00 -5:00 p.m.
St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Tulsa, OK. Gathering with clergy from the Tulsa area for a time of listening. Contact me if you want more information.

Saturday, April 1, 2:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Mosaic United Methodist Church, Oklahoma City, OK. A workshop on Celtic spirituality. For more information, contact Mosaic at 405-751-0766.

Sunday, April 2, 10:30 a.m.
Mosaic United Methodist Church, Bishop Angie Smith Chapel on the campus of Oklahoma City University. Preaching and join in worship. For more information, contact Mosaic at 405-751-0766.