John O’Donohue

The selections on this page are by Irish poet and philosopher, John O’Donohue, from his books, Benedictus (Europe) and To Bless the Space Between Us (US)

 

THIS IS THE TIME TO BE SLOW

 

This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.

 


 

BLESSING FOR ONE WHO IS EXHAUSTED (excerpt)

 

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

 

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken in the race of days.

 

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

 

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

 

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

 

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

 

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone

Until its calmness can claim you.

 

Be excessively gentle with yourself.

 

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

 

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

 


 

BLESSINGS FOR A NURSE (excerpt)

 

In this fragile frontier-place, your kindness

Becomes the light that consoles the broken-hearted,

Awakens within desperate storms

That oasis of serenity that calls

The spirit to rise from beneath the weight of pain,

To create a new space in the person’s mind

Where they gain distance from their suffering

And begin to see the invitation

To integrate and transform it.

 

May you embrace the beauty in what you do

And how you stand like a secret angel

Between the bleak despair of illness

And the unquenchable light of spirit

That can turn the darkest destiny towards dawn.