Beannacht (Blessing)

John O'Donohue

As I’ve mentioned about a thousand times, I’m possessive of a deeply Celtic, mystical spirit and as such, am drawn to others of similar ilk. Irish Catholic poet, writer and Hegelian philosopher, John O’Donohue (1956-2008) is one such kindred spirit. At the risk of sounding crass, to read O’Donohue is to make love with words. His facility with nuance, the numinous and near, the transcendent and tame, of the thin places of the world is second to none.

The following piece is one of my favorites. I’ve used this in liturgy many times and return to it on almost any occasion just to speak the words that, in themselves, bless in the saying of them. Read it once quietly. Read it twice more quietly. Read it out loud a third time. Finally, let it read you.

Then, wait. You will not be disappointed.


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 in to 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.



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