I am re-reading John O’Donohue’s book of blessings these days, reminding me of the key place that hospitality had in the Celtic spiritual tradition and see how that applies to the challenging moments of life, prompting me to see if I can create a space for growth to occur:
Now this dark companion has come between you.
Distances have opened in your eyes.
You feel that against your will
A stranger has married your heart.
Nothing before has made you
Feel so isolated & lost.
When the reverberations of shock subside in you,
May grace come to restore you to balance.
May it shape a new space in your heart
To embrace this illness as a teacher
Who has come to open your life to new worlds.
May you find in yourself
A courageous hospitality
Toward what is difficult,
Painful, & unknown.
May your fragile harvesting of this slow light
Help to release whatever has become false in you.
May you trust this light to clear a path
Through all the fog of old unease & anxiety
Until you feel arising within you a tranquility
Profound enough to call the storm to stillness.
May you keep faith with your body,
Learning to see it as a holy sanctuary
Which can bring this night-wound gradually
Toward the healing & freedom of dawn.
May you be granted the courage & vision
To work through passivity & self-pity,
To see the beauty you can harvest
From the riches of this dark invitation.
May you learn to receive it graciously,
And promise to learn swiftly
That is may leave you newborn,
Willing to dedicate your time to birth.
John O’Donohue, Blessing for a Friend, on the Arrival of Illness (extracts), from Benedictus