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

St. Francis and the Blessing of the Animals

Today is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. In St. Francis’ “Canticle of the Sun,” he named all of creation as his siblings. We’re celebrating St. Francis today at The Upper Room with a Blessing of the Animals. We’ve invited our friends, families, and neighbors to bring their pet(s) or picture of their pet(s) for a blessing. Those of you close by, we hope you will join us any time between 4 and 6 p.m.

Jack has had a bath and a haircut and will be present at the event. If you would like a blessing (or a head hug) from Jack, he will gladly oblige.

Praise to you, Lord, with all your creatures; and above all to Brother Sun, who makes the day that lightens us. He is fair and shines with a great splendor. Most High, he bears your mark.

Praise to you, Lord, for Sister Moon and for the Stars. In the heavens you have framed them, clear and precious and fair.

Praise to you, Lord, for Brother Wind, for the air and the cloud, for calm and all weather by which you give sustenance to your creatures.

Praise to you, Lord, for Sister Water. Very useful is she and humble and precious and chaste.

Praise to you, Lord, for Brother Fire by whom the night is lightened. He is lovely and limber and lusty and strong.

Praise to you, Lord, for our sister, Mother Earth, who upholds and cares for us, who brings forth the many kinds of fruit, the painted flowers, and the grass. …

Praise and bless the Lord, and give God thanks, and serve God with great humility.

Francis of Assisi
“Song of the Creatures”
Writings of Francis and Clare

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.