Beannacht ( blessing or benediction)

A blessing for a Sunday night, or a Monday morning, whatever faces you this week or has been in the week just closed. A blessing for those I know and love, and those who may  have stumbled upon this looking for something else.  Shortly before his sudden unexpected  death in 2008 aged 52, John O Donohue recited his poem Beannacht, during an interview.  I had the privilege of meeting him at Greenbelt Festival in the year or two before this, having long been captured by his writings.  In his family’s own words:

John had an amazing intellect which could never allow itself to become a prisoner of its own `ivory tower`. He had a beautiful, wild soul that he showered with love and attention. All of this, together with his great respect for language as expression and his sensitive eye led him on the journey towards poetry as being his best-loved medium of expression and conversation. I think that ‘poetry’ must have been very frustrated at all the time he spent under the spell of Theology and Philosophy!! Poetry was an impatiently awaiting vehicle eager to transport his fluency out to starved ears.

He served as a catholic priest for most of his adult life At the end of 2000, John retired from public priestly ministry and devoted himself full-time to his writing and to a more public life of integrity in action – speaking, advocating against social injustice, and inspiring the wealthy and powerful in society to engage their own integrity in service of meaningful, positive change. He is certainly someone I can say ( and many others will agree) whose ‘life was an inspiration, and whose memory a benediction’.

Beannacht 

for Josie, my mother
 
 
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 the 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. 
 
This poem can be found under the title Blessing for the New Year, in his book, Bless the space Between U s available in the USA, or in the book  Echoes of Memory available in Europe/UK. 

© Estate of John O’Donohue. All rights reserved.


 

You can find out more about John and his work at :  http://www.johnodonohue.com/