Blessing for the Longest Night (by Jan Richardson)

All throughout these months
as the shadows
have lengthened,
this blessing has been
gathering itself,
making ready,
preparing for
this night.

It has practiced
walking in the dark,
traveling with
its eyes closed,
feeling its way
by memory
by touch
by the pull of the moon
even as it wanes.

So believe me
when I tell you
this blessing will
reach you
even if you
have not light enough
to read it;
it will find you
even though you cannot
see it coming.

You will know
the moment of its
by your release
of the breath
you have held
so long;
a loosening
of the clenching
in your hands,
of the clutch
around your heart;
a thinning
of the darkness
that had drawn itself
around you.

This blessing
does not mean
to take the night away
but it knows
its hidden roads,
knows the resting spots
along the path,
knows what it means
to travel
in the company
of a friend.

So when
this blessing comes,
take its hand.
Get up.
Set out on the road
you cannot see.

This is the night
when you can trust
that any direction
you go,
you will be walking
toward the dawn.

© Jan Richardson.

Perhaps it’s because it’s the Winter Solstice.

Perhaps it’s because it was the “Longest Night of the Year” last night.

Perhaps it’s because of the conversation I had with the woman today who wept for fear that her cancer had returned and she just wanted to go home.

Perhaps it’s due to the man I talked to today who showed me the picture of the his tombstone and the cemetery plot he purchased, as he lives with his incurable disease and learns to enjoy simply each simple unremarkable, extraordinary day.

Perhaps it’s because it would have been my Mom’s birthday today and I never really pondered the significance of her birth on this day. On the Solstice. The day after the longest night. The day when, though it may not seem like the darkness has changed at all, it has. Imperceptibly perhaps, almost unnoticeably. But the longest night is over and light is steadily and slowly increasing.

Which gives me hope.

It’s the theological truth of the phrase, “The Now and the Not Yet.” It’s changed. It’s not as dark. It doesn’t feel like it. It’s hard to perceive. But something has changed in the Universe. Something has changed in my heart.

The blessing has been gathering itself.

The blessing will reach you.

The blessing will find you even if you can’t see it coming.

The darkness is thinning.

I am finding the hidden roads.

Though I cannot see as clearly as I would like to, I know I am walking towards the dawn.

And the blessing? What is the blessing?

There are treasures even within the darkness and riches in dark secret places and a presence.

A presence that I feel in my bones.

A presence that I know in my soul.

And a presence that calls my name.

“I will give you the treasures of darkness
and riches hidden in the secret places,
so that you may know that it is I, the Lord,
the God of Israel, who call you by your name.”


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