A Blessing for Those Who Wait

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

For those who wait
In the paths of storms,
In detention camps,
In hospice rooms.
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.

We drove over to Western North Carolina yesterday for a weekend retreat. Driving east were caravans of utility trucks getting into place to respond to the damage of Hurricane Florence. The retreat center where we are staying is filled with residents, employees, and families of employees from a retirement center in Charleston, South Carolina.

This day, I think of those throughout the world who are waiting — for the arrival of a storm, those watching the “drip, drip, drip” of chemotherapy. I pray for those who wait by the hospice bed of a loved one, for children and families in detention camps on our southern border, for families waiting for results of medical tests, for all who wait in fear and sadness and grief.

The Unwinding

How strange and wonderful that I can wake up in the hot, humid south and go to sleep in the cool mountains of Colorado.

Today is my first full day of seven here in this beautiful place.

I took two naps after lunch and then walked down by the river to see what was blooming and what I’ve missed in my two-year absence.

I stopped to visit with my favorite wildflower. The shooting star by the river was still there, yellowing and dying back so that it can bloom again next spring.

What comfort to find this place of stability in a world that is ever-changing and often feels out of control.

Now I need to unwind, to let go of the chatter, to be let myself be fully present to this time of rest.

Feast Day of Colmcille

Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Colmcille, the Irish monk who lived and walked in Ireland and then went across the sea and founded Iona.

Last year in July, we walked the Turas Cholmcille in County Donegal that people will walk today.

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

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.