Blessing the Dust

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
“Blessing the Dust” appears in Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons.

Where light begins

WHERE THE LIGHT BEGINS

A Blessing for Christmas Day

Perhaps it does not begin.

Perhaps it is always.
Perhaps it takes
a lifetime
to open our eyes,
to learn to see
what has forever
shimmered in front of us—

the luminous line
of the map
in the dark
the vigil flame
in the house
of the heart
the love
so searing
we cannot keep
from singing,
from crying out
in testimony
and praise.

Perhaps this day
will be the mountain
over which
the dawn breaks.
Perhaps we
will turn our face
toward it,
toward what has been
always.

Perhaps
our eyes
will finally open
in ancient recognition,
willingly dazzled,
illuminated at last.
Perhaps this day
the light begins
in us.


Quote: Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

Image: “Where the Light Begins” © Jan Richardson

Courage

On a day when the word “courage” is being spoken all over the country… I thank Jan Richardson for these words.

 

BLESSING OF COURAGE

I cannot say

where it lives,

only that it comes

to the heart

that is open,

to the heart

that asks,

to the heart

that does not turn away.

It can take practice,

days of tugging at

what keeps us bound,

seasons of pushing against

what keeps our dreaming

small.

When it arrives,

it might surprise you

by how quiet it is,

how it moves

with such grace

for possessing

such power.

But you will know it

by the strength

that rises from within you

to meet it,

by the release

of the knot

in the center of

your chest

that suddenly lets go.

You will recognize it

by how still

your fear becomes

as it loosens its grip,

perhaps never quite

leaving you,

but calmly turning

into joy

as you enter the life

that is finally

your own.

 

—Jan Richardson from The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief

Image: “Gift of Courage” © Jan 

the place between

BLESSING FOR THE PLACE BETWEEN

When you come
to the place between.

When you have left
what you held
most dear.

When you are traveling
toward the life
you know not.

When you arrive
at the hardest ground.

May it become
for you
a place to rest.

May it become
for you
a place to dream.

May the pain
that has pressed itself
into you
give way
to vision,
to knowing.

May the morning
make of it
an altar,
a path,
a place to begin
again.


Quote: Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief

Photo: Bud Holland