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Posts Tagged ‘Jan Richardson’

Today, I didn’t have my napkin in my purse to write upon, when I was at the 8 am children’s Mass on Ash Wednesday at Christ the King Cathedral. So many blessings entered my soul from the readings, to the music, to the homily and the children filling most of the cathedral. “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul.”

And of course, I can’t remember most of what I wanted to. I need napkins more than ever these days to remember, oh my remember. I know the first message I soaked up like a sponge was “Return to me with all your heart.” It is such a blessing to be involved in anything in our life where we are in it whole-heartedly.  Another scripture at another time warns us to be a full Yes or a No — anything in between  is not “of the Spirit.”

I am so grateful to be living whole-hearted in each day, maybe with a few aches and pains, various trials here and there, some inconveniences, but in the over-all appraisal, I feel grateful and whole hearted for the life I have.

Today, I share my SoulCollage image I made for Lent maybe over five years ago. I add to it the magnificent blog post of Jan Richardson, and thus I am complete. It is all here.

 

Readings for Ash Wednesday: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17;
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

From Jan Richardson:

We are entering the season that begins with a smudge. That smudge is a testimony to what survives. It is a witness to what abides when everything seems lost. It is a sign that what we know and love may, for a time, be reduced to dust, but it does not disappear. We belong to the God who well knows what to do with dust, who sees the dust as a place to dream anew, who creates from it again and again.
—Jan Richardson, from Ash Wednesday: What God Can Do with Dust
The Painted Prayerbook, February 2018

Friends, as we enter into Lent, I want to share this Ash Wednesday blessing again. It’s been six years since I first wrote it, during what would turn out to be my last Lent with Gary. I have found that the question the blessing holds—”Did you not know what the Holy One can do with dust?”—is a good one to ask myself anew each time Ash Wednesday comes around. And I can say now: I know what God can do with dust. And I am learning still.

As this season begins, what blessing do you need to claim from the ashes?

Blessing the Dust
For Ash Wednesday

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners
or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—
did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.
This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.
This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.
So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made
and the stars that blaze
in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.
—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

NAPKINWRITER so highly recommended this beautiful, inspiring book. Buy it now!

 

Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.”

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Today is a guest blog — a poem– from the beautiful poems of blessings by Jan Richardson in her book, Circle of Grace.  Treat yourself to her book.

 

Blessing The Way
by Jan Richardson

With every step
you take,
this blessing rises up
to meet you.

It has been waiting
long ages for you.

Look close
and you can see
the layers of it,

how it has been fashioned
by those who walked
this road before you,

how it has been created
of nothing but
their determination
and their dreaming,

how it has taken
its form

from an ancient hope
that drew them forward
and made a way for them
when no way could be
seen.

Look closer
and you will see
this blessing
is not finished,

that you are part
of the path
it is preparing,

that you are how
this blessing means
to be a voice
within the wilderness

and a welcome
for the way.

 

permission granted for one-time reproduction
Copyright 2015 Jan Richardson
Wanton Godspeller Press
Orlando, FL

 

 

 

 

 

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all-saints-jan-richardson-c
All Saints (c) Jan Richardson

 

This guest blog from Jan Richardson comes to you on November 1, All Saints Day celebrated in the Catholic Church. This year I have “lost” dear family and friends, more than I want to count. I am aware of the “thin veil” as I have been visited by many of them in my dreams and have even heard them speak. We are Eternal Beings. This I now know and continue to believe. Still, I am jealous of the thin veil and it is not enough for me to know they are “still here.”  I grieve the losses of my friends’ of their spouses and siblings and being in this “of a certain age” category, the expectation that these losses will diminish has all but vanished. Acceptance is hard in coming. Prayer is centering. But wishful thinking continues and memories float through my awareness like a familiar drive-through order.

Peace Be.
Napkinwriter

 

“Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living;
for to him all of them are alive.”
—Luke 20:38

I have long loved this trinity of days of October 31, November 1, and November 2: Halloween, the Feast of All Saints, the Feast of All Souls. For many years these days have been for me a threshold time—what the Celtic tradition calls a thin place, where the veil between worlds becomes permeable. I learned long ago that this thin place is a time for paying attention, for listening at the threshold, for noticing what door seems to be opening and inviting me to walk through.

It seemed fitting that Gary and I began dating on Halloween, that the roots of our relationship go deep into these thin, in-between, meeting-of-worlds days. As I continue to navigate this path in the wake of his dying, it comes as a comfort to remember the message of the Feast of All Saints: that in the body of Christ, death does not release us from being in relationship with one another. The separation that causes us such pain in this life does not sever the bonds of community.

As we move through these days, I want to share a blessing I wrote three years ago, the last time this reading from Luke 20 came up in the lectionary. When I wrote the blessing, I had no idea how much I would need it for myself, and how soon. Just a week after I posted it, Gary had the surgery that, so unexpectedly, would bear him away from us.

In these days, may the veil be thin for each of us. May we know the blessing of those who are gone from this life but who breathe with us still, and may we know the grace of the God who breathes life into us all. Deep peace to you.

God of the Living
A Blessing

When the wall
between the worlds
is too firm,
too close.

When it seems
all solidity
and sharp edges.

When every morning
you wake as if
flattened against it,
its forbidding presence
fairly pressing the breath
from you
all over again.

Then may you be given
a glimpse
of how weak the wall

and how strong what stirs
on the other side,

breathing with you
and blessing you
still,
forever bound to you
but freeing you
into this living,
into this world
so much wider
than you ever knew.

—Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow

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Advent Post

In Father Jim’s homily on Epiphany this morning, he offered to us that God is always being revealed to us through our experience. Always. In every experience. He said at the time of the birth of Jesus and the Epiphany of revelation at the visit of the three kings, that Mary didn’t know at that time what was being revealed.  What was she doing? She was “holding these things in her heart…..she was pondering these things in her heart“and continued to do so throughout her life.

How could she possibly understand what was happening now? How would she understand what was to come?  How?  She held them in her heart…a true contemplative.

I approach a lot of my life this way now, having just turned the age of 73. There is much going on above, around and through me. I journal, I hold these things in my heart. I feel gladness and joy; I experience pain and tears, uncertainty and fear. But I ponder and I am aware of gratitude for the gift of life and love all around me so freely given.

I love the words and art and spiritual vision of Jan Richardson and I share her poem of Epiphany with you for my first 2016 Napkinwriter blog.

 

For Those Who Have Far to Travel
A Blessing for Epiphany

If you could see
the journey whole,
you might never
undertake it,
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not.

Call it
one of the mercies
of the road:
that we see it
only by stages
as it opens
before us,
as it comes into
our keeping,
step by
single step.

There is nothing
for it
but to go,
and by our going
take the vows
the pilgrim takes:

to be faithful to
the next step;
to rely on more
than the map;
to heed the signposts
of intuition and dream;
to follow the star
that only you
will recognize;

to keep an open eye
for the wonders that
attend the path;
to press on
beyond distractions,
beyond fatigue,
beyond what would
tempt you
from the way.

There are vows
that only you
will know:
the secret promises
for your particular path
and the new ones
you will need to make
when the road
is revealed
by turns
you could not
have foreseen.

Keep them, break them,
make them again;
each promise becomes
part of the path,
each choice creates
the road
that will take you
to the place
where at last
you will kneel

to offer the gift
most needed—
the gift that only you
can give—
before turning to go
home by
another way.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace

“© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com

New from Jan Richardson
CIRCLE OF GRACE: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

Within the struggle, joy, pain, and delight that attend our life, there is an invisible circle of grace that enfolds and encompasses us in every moment. Blessings help us to perceive this circle of grace, to find our place of belonging within it, and to receive the strength the circle holds for us. —from the Introduction

Beginning in Advent and moving through the sacred seasons of the Christian year, Circle of Grace offers Jan’s distinctive and poetic blessings that illuminate the treasures each season offers to us. A beautiful gift this Advent and Christmas. Available in print and ebook.

 

 

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