A Blessing for Those Who Wait

image of candle

For those who wait
In despair,
In grief,
In sorrow.
You are comfort.
You are strength.

For those who wait
In anxiety,
In isolation,
In loneliness.
You are comfort.
You are strength.

For those who wait
In tender hope,
In tear-streaked sadness,
In fearful anticipation.
You are comfort.
You are strength.

Bless, Loving Healer,
All those who wait.
You are comfort.
You are strength.

Originally written 9/2018. Updated for us waiting and watching the unfolding of the pandemic. Find more of my blessings in my book Christ Beside Me, Christ Before Me: Celtic Blessings.

Why I Was Late to Plenary

Daffodil bloom

The chime sounded to begin an hour of silence.
I started walking up the road,
Trying to find silence in my churned-up monkey brain.

Step, step, step.
Listen for each big and tiny sound.
My shoes on the asphalt, the chickadee’s call,
An airplane above, the wind whispering in tall pines.

Step, step, step.
See all that the eyes can see.
The clouds in a blue sky, the root ball of an upturned tree,
Water flowing down the hill, a patch of blooming daffodils.

I find myself kneeling by the daffodils,
Watching the way the sun shines through them.

Seconds, minutes (hours?) later,
I come back to the reality of the space-time continuum.
I am a twenty-minute walk away from the plenary
Which starts in five minutes.

Step, step, step.
I walk and listen and see
In the spaciousness of silence.

A Party for Jack’s Book!

My friends at The Upper Room are throwing a party to celebrate Jack’s new book of Blessings.

It’s Wednesday, May 22, 2-3 (CDT) at The Upper Room, 1908 Grand Avenue, Nashville, TN. There will be refreshments for two and four-legged critters.

Come and join the party!!!

P.S. Come in the morning for the Taizé service (10:45 a.m. in the Chapel). We can all get lunch and then go to the party.

Jack’s New Book of Celtic Blessings

Get a copy from Amazon: Jack’s Book of Blessings: Celtic Poems by a Scottie Dog

When I was preparing for the release of Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings, I started writing a companion book with my Scottie dog, Jack, in which he would offer his own blessings. Now, three years later, Jack’s Book of Blessings is available! It was released on March 16th and, starting on the 17th, has been running #1 in Amazon New Releases in the category of Irish and British poetry. At least for now it is ranked above works by Seamus Heaney, Mary Robinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, William Blake, and Alfred Lord Tennyson. (I can see Jack’s smile from beyond the rainbow bridge and his questioning gaze, asking, “Can I have a Special Treat?”)

More about Jack’s Book:

Jack the Scottie tells you about his day with poems for every activity from breakfast to going to sleep. Jack’s Celtic-style blessings lead us through each moment of the day: the walk, the leash, the treats, the lap, the dog park (and even the not-so-enjoyable bath). The book features original drawings of Jack, drawn by his companion and co-author of the book, Beth A. Richardson.

Introduction by Roberta Bondi

The introduction of this special book is written Roberta Bondi and Curly, her white-haired Bichon Frisée. Dr. Roberta C. Bondi is professor emerita of church history and spirituality, Candler School of Theology. Roberta writes, “These are such great prayers, which the world always needs, especially in these hard times, but they were also written by a dog. Everybody knows that dogs are especially good at blessing others as well as asking others to bless them. Jack, of course, was always particularly articulate in his own canine way, and as a true lover of God, others, and the everyday world he lived in, he was perfectly suited to write this book.”

Praise from Cats and Dogs:

At last! A book that goes beyond affirming we non-humans bless God, to one that translates those blessings! Jack’s Scottish Celtic heritage proves ideal for framing this universal expression of praise. As a Norwegian Forest cat, my prayers are more reserved than Jack’s, and I certainly do not have his sort of co-dependent relationship with my humans (“Mom,” p. 3, really?!). But the nap, the bed, the treats, the lap, these are universal in relationships with domesticated humans, every one of whom should read this book to strengthen their often inconstant faith.
– Pepper Allen, Norwegian Forest cat

Jack has penned such lovely blessings for the life of us dogs. We treasure all the things that matter–our families, our food, the smells, the walks. Jack rocks!
– Graford and Fiona Earle, border collies

About the Authors

Beth A. Richardson, is a writer, photographer, editor, cartoonist, and lover of dogs. She is the author of a companion book to Jack’s Book of Blessings called Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN.

Jack, a Scottish Terrier, was born in Indiana and lived with Beth and her family in Nashville, Tennessee. Jack the Scottie was a “real dog.” (Cartoon Jack, however, was much more cooperative than “real Jack.”) Jack passed away suddenly in October of 2018. He lives on in the hearts of many.

Get a copy from Amazon: Jack’s Book of Blessings: Celtic Poems by a Scottie Dog

I Hear the Sound of Breaking Hearts

I hear the sound of breaking hearts.

Tender, young hearts, open and hopeful,
Facing betrayal from the church which formed them.

Scarred, resilient, older hearts,
Once-healed wounds torn open by hatred and prejudice.

I know the pain of a breaking heart.
The shock, the sadness,
The emptiness that has no end.

Beloveds,
You are held,
You are loved.

Your wounds are tended
By the One who knew you before you were imagined,
The One who whispers,
“I created you,
And I love you
Just the way you are.”

Henri Nouwen said it this way:

Long before your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your school, your church touched you, loved you, and wounded you — long before that you were held safe in an eternal embrace.
—Henri J. M. Nouwen
Our First Love

A Kaddish for My Mother

I’m grateful to Rabbi David Horowitz, Academy faculty presenter this week. He taught us the Kaddish, the prayer prayed to the Holy One on the anniversary of the deaths of our loved ones. Today I remember Mom.

Exalted and hallowed be God’s great name in the world which God created, according to plan. May God’s majesty be revealed in the days of our lifetime and the life of all Israel — speedily, imminently, to which we say: Amen.

Blessed be God’s great name to all eternity.

Blessed, praised, honored, exalted, extolled, glorified, adored, and lauded be the name of the Holy Blessed One, beyond all earthly words and songs of blessing, praise, and comfort. To which we say: Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and all Israel. To which we say: Amen.

May the One who creates harmony on high, bring peace us and to all Israel. To which we say: Amen.

Version of the Kaddish, praising God, that mourners recite during the bereavement period and to mark the anniversary of a death of a loved one. From Mishkan T’filah.