Messages of Hope

Feeling our way Forward

Published / by Jana

Once upon a time, I lived on a wee Scottish Island. My memories of that time and place are many and varied, and all of them cherished. I remember one night when a group of us were walking from the abbey to the village hall, deep in winter. We left the warm pool of light at the abbey entrance and headed towards the twinkling welcome of the village. Suddenly, the power went out on Iona and Mull, the larger island across the Sound. There was no moon; there were no stars. We could not see – our hands in front of our faces, or one another even standing nose to nose…and most definitely not the ground beneath us.

I can remember having no clue how to move, how to stay on the way. We bumbled along like fools but did make it to the hall, where others had the candles lit and the whisky poured. And all was well.

The thing about the darkness that night was not that it was frightening. It wasn’t especially. It was just so unexpectedly total. In an instant, we were plunged into an alternate reality. We knew the way, from abbey to hall, and yet in this new reality our knowledge didn’t count for much. We literally had to feel our way.

I think of the people who made their way out to the river to John the Baptiser at the beginning of the gospel of Mark. When they came up out of the water, having been baptised, they found themselves in a new and alternate reality. They had not gone to the well-lit temple for the repentance of sins; they had gone out to the wilderness. From then on, they would be feeling their way.

The experience of one of these seismic shifts in our reality is not always so benign. Sometimes, they threaten to make us lose our way.

The gospel of Mark ends with the women fleeing from the tomb – running away. The darkness of the empty tomb in the darkness before morning…it was so unexpectedly total. And it was frightening.

Grief can be like that…unexpectedly total….leaving us feeling our way.

Blessing When the World is Ending
by Jan Richardson

Look, the world
is always ending

the sun has come
crashing down.

it has gone
completely dark.

it has ended
with the gun
the knife
the fist.

it has ended
with the slammed door
the shattered hope.

it has ended
with the utter quiet
that follows the news
from the phone
the television
the hospital room.

it has ended
with a tenderness
that will break
your heart.

But, listen,
this blessing means
to be anything
but morose.
It has not come
to cause despair.

It is simply here
because there is nothing
a blessing
is better suited for
than an ending,
nothing that cries out more
for a blessing
than when a world
is falling apart.

This blessing
will not fix you
will not mend you
will not give you
false comfort;
it will not talk to you
about one door opening
when another one closes.

It will simply
sit itself beside you
among the shards
and gently turn your face
toward the direction
from which the light
will come,
gathering itself
about you
as the world begins
– Jan Richardson

It’s been a week of utter quiet following the news from the television. What can we do but feel our way through?

Such bad news, everywhere. If John the Baptist were at the river, I would go down, just to be washed clean of it, of all that human beings like me can be so ready, willing and able to do to each other.

Where, how, when – with what loving friends, in the midst of which particular natural beauty that stirs your heart, or immersed in what exquisite work of art or piece of music…how will we find our way to receiving the blessing of the Present One, who sits “among the shards/and gently turn(s) our face(s)/toward the direction/from which the light/will come,/gathering itself/about (us)/as the world begins/again.”


posted 10 Dec 2014 by Jana