Recently I have been reading from John O’Donohue’s “Benedictus: A Book Of Blessings”. He is a poet from the Celtic tradition and all his work evokes a sense of warmth and belonging and a yearning and a sense for the deeper things in life.

It is often as we stand at the threshold of change and loss that we feel that yearning for something beyond ourselves and the warmth and courage that that can bring.
The word blessing helps us here as it evokes a sense of warmth and protection; it suggests that no life is alone or unreachable.

Funerals and memorial services are a time when we look for words to help us create a ritual, to curate a moment where we can pause and give thanks and grieve for the one we have lost. This is also true of any significant anniversary of the heart. As we stand at the threshold of the unknown we may need to find new words to help us take that journey.

As John O’Donohue so beautifully writes: “Regardless of our differences in religion, language or concept, there is no heart that is without this inner divine reference. I believe each of us can bless. When a blessing is invoked, it changes the atmosphere. Some of the plenitude flows into our hearts from the invisible neighbourhood of loving kindness. In the light and reverence of blessing a person or situation becomes illuminated in a completely new way.”

So as we come to the end of this year and consider those we may have loved and lost and look to the new year ahead I hope that you will be blessed by O’Donohue’s rich words:

For Josie

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.”

from “Benedictus: A Book Of Blessings”
by John O’Donohue