To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book Of Blessings by John O'donohueTo Bless the Space Between Us: A Book Of Blessings by John O'donohue

To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book Of Blessings

byJohn O'donohue

Hardcover | March 4, 2008

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From the author of the bestselling Anam Cara comes a beautiful collection of blessings to help readers through both the everyday and the extraordinary events of their lives.

John O’Donohue, Irish teacher and poet, has been widely praised for his gift of drawing on Celtic spiritual traditions to create words of inspiration and wisdom for today. In To Bless the Space Between Us, his compelling blend of elegant, poetic language and spiritual insight offers readers comfort and encouragement on their journeys through life. O’Donohue looks at life’s thresholds—getting married, having children, starting a new job—and offers invaluable guidelines for making the transition from a known, familiar world into a new, unmapped territory. Most profoundly, however, O’Donohue explains “blessing” as a way of life, as a lens through which the whole world is transformed.

O’Donohue awakens readers to timeless truths and shows the power they have to answer contemporary dilemmas and ease us through periods of change.

JOHN O’DONOHUE is the author of several books, including, most recently, Beauty, and the international bestsellers Anam Cara and Eternal Echoes, as well as two collections of poetry, Echoes of Memory and Conamara Blues. He lives in Ireland and frequently travels to the United States to give lectures and conduct workshops.
Title:To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book Of BlessingsFormat:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 7.78 × 5.34 × 0.87 inPublished:March 4, 2008Publisher:The Crown Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385522274

ISBN - 13:9780385522274


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful book This little book has a blessing for any occasion. The text is beautiful. I enjoyed my copy so much I gave several away. Makes a lovely gift.
Date published: 2013-03-04

Read from the Book

1    BeginningsThere are days when Conamara is wreathed in blue Tuscan light. The mountains seem to waver as though they were huge dark ships on a distant voyage. I love to climb up into the silence of these vast autonomous structures. What seems like a pinnacled summit from beneath becomes a level plateau when you arrive there. Born in a red explosion of ascending fire, the granite lies cold, barely marked by the millions of years of rain and wind. On this primeval ground I feel I have entered into a pristine permanence, a continuity here that knew the wind hundreds of millions of years before a human face ever felt it. When we arrive into the world, we enter this ancient sequence. All our beginnings happen within this continuity. Beginnings often frighten us because they seem like lonely voyages into the unknown. Yet, in truth, no beginning is empty or isolated. We seem to think that beginning is setting out from a lonely point along some line of direction into the unknown. This is not the case. Shelter and energy come alive when a beginning is embraced. Goethe says that once the commitment is made, destiny conspires with us to support and realize it. We are never as alone in our beginnings as it might seem at the time. A beginning is ultimately an invitation to open toward the gifts and growth that are stored up for us. To refuse to begin can be an act of great self-neglect. Perhaps beginnings make us anxious because we did not begin ourselves. Others began us. Being conceived and born, we eventually enter upon ourselves already begun, already there. Instinctively we grasp onto and continue within the continuity in which we find ourselves. Indeed, our very life here depends directly on continuous acts of beginning. But these beginnings are out of our hands; they decide themselves. This is true of our breathing and our heartbeat. Beginning precedes us, creates us, and constantly takes us to new levels and places and people. There is nothing to fear in the act of beginning. More often than not it knows the journey ahead better than we ever could. Perhaps the art of harvesting the secret riches of our lives is best achieved when we place profound trust in the act of beginning. Risk might be our greatest ally. To live a truly creative life, we always need to cast a critical look at where we presently are, attempting always to discern where we have become stagnant and where new beginning might be ripening. There can be no growth if we do not remain open and vulnerable to what is new and different. I have never seen anyone take a risk for growth that was not rewarded a thousand times over. There is a certain innocence about beginning, with its excitement and promise of something new. But this will emerge only through undertaking some voyage into the unknown. And no one can foretell what the unknown might yield. There are journeys we have begun that have brought us great inner riches and refinement; but we had to travel through dark valleys of difficulty and suffering. Had we known at the beginning what the journey would demand of us, we might never have set out. Yet the rewards and gifts became vital to who we are. Through the innocence of beginning we are often seduced into growth.Sometimes the greatest challenge is to actually begin; there is something deep in us that conspires with what wants to remain within safe boundaries and stay the same. Years ago my neighbor here set out to build his new home. He had just stripped the sod off the field to begin digging out the foundation when an old man from the village happened to come by. He blessed the work and said, "You have the worst of it behind you now." My neighbor laughed and said, "But I have only just begun." The old man said, "That's what I mean. You have begun; and to make a real beginning is the most difficult act." There is an old Irish proverb that says, "Tus maith leath na hoibre." "A good beginning is half the work."  There seems to be a wisdom here, when one considers all the considerations, hesitation, and uncertainty that can claim our hearts for such a long time before the actual act of beginning happens. Sometimes a period of preparation is necessary, where the idea of the beginning can gestate and refine itself; yet quite often we unnecessarily postpone and equivocate when we should simply take the risk and leap into a new beginning. The Greeks believed that time had secret structure. There was the moment of Epiphany when time suddenly opened and something was revealed in luminous clarity. There was the moment of krisis when time got entangled and directions became confused and contradictory. There was also the moment of kairos; this was the propitious moment. Time opened up in kindness and promise. All the energies cohered to offer a fecund occasion of initiative, creativity, and promise. Part of the art of living wisely is to learn to recognize and attend to such profound openings in one's life. In the letters between Boris Pasternak and Olga Ivinskaya there is the beautiful recognition: "When a great moment knocks on the door of your life, its sound is often no louder than the beating of your heart and it is very easy to miss it." To live a conscious life, we need to constantly refine our listening.The Jewish tradition believed that time had its own psychic seasons. In the book of Ecclesiastes there is a list of the correspondences between certain events and their proper time: To every thing, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.Before it occurs, a beginning can be a long time in preparation. This is why some beginnings take off with great assuredness, and one can instinctively recognize that the right direction has been chosen. Without any struggle, one enters into a fluency that seemed to have been awaiting one's choice. Other beginnings are awkward and slow, and it takes considerable time before the new path opens or welcomes one. Sometimes beginnings can catch us unawares. Often when something is ending we discover within it the spore of new beginning, and a whole new train of possibility is in motion before we even realize it. When the heart is ready for a fresh beginning, unforeseen things can emerge. And in a sense, this is exactly what a beginning does. It is an opening for surprises. Surrounding the intention and the act of beginning, there are always exciting possibilities. This inevitably excites artists. So much can actually happen between the moment the brush is taken into the hand and the moment it touches the canvas. Such beginnings have their own mind, and they invite and unveil new gifts and arrivals in one's life. Beginnings are new horizons that want to be seen; they are not regressions or repetitions. Somehow they win clearance and become fiercely free of the grip of the past. What is the new horizon in you that wants to be seen?Matins1Somewhere, out at the edges, the nightIs turning and the waves of darknessBegin to brighten the shore of dawnThe heavy dark falls back to earthAnd the freed air goes wild with light,The heart fills with fresh, bright breathAnd thoughts stir to give birth to color.2I arise todayIn the name of SilenceWomb of the Word,In the name of StillnessHome of Belonging,In the name of the SolitudeOf the Soul and the Earth.I arise todayBlessed by all things,Wings of breath,Delight of eyes,Wonder of whisper,Intimacy of touch,Eternity of soul,Urgency of thought,Miracle of health,Embrace of God.May I live this dayCompassionate of heart,Clear in word,Gracious in awareness,Courageous in thought,Generous in love.A Morning OfferingI bless the night that nourished my heartTo set the ghosts of longing freeInto the flow and figure of dreamThat went to harvest from the darkBread for the hunger no one sees.All that is eternal in meWelcomes the wonder of this day,The field of brightness it createsOffering time for each thingTo arise and illuminate.I place on the altar of dawn:The quiet loyalty of breath,The tent of thought where I shelter,Waves of desire I am shore toAnd all beauty drawn to the eye.May my mind come alive todayTo the invisible geography That invites me to new frontiers, To break the dead shell of yesterdays,To risk being disturbed and changed.May I have the courage todayTo live the life that I would love,To postpone my dream no longerBut do at last what I came here forAnd waste my heart on fear no more.A Blessing for the New YearbeannachtFor Josie.On the day whenThe weight deadensOn your shouldersAnd you stumble,May the clay dance To balance you.And when your eyesFreeze behindThe gray windowAnd the ghost of lossGets into you,May a flock of colors,Indigo, red, greenAnd azure blue,Come to awaken in youA meadow of delight.When the canvas fraysIn the curragh of thoughtAnd a stain of oceanBlackens beneath you,May there come across the watersA path of yellow moonlightTo 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 slowWind work these wordsOf love around you,An invisible cloakTo mind your life.In Praise of FireLet us praise the grace and risk of Fire.In the beginning,The Word was red,And the sound was thunder,And the wound in the unseenSpilled forth the red weather of being.In the name of the Fire,The FlameAnd the Light:Praise the pure presence of fireThat burns from withinWithout thought of time.The hunger of Fire has no needFor the reliquary of the future;It adores the eros of now,Where the memory of the earthIn flames that lick and drink the airIs made to release Its long-enduring formsIn a powder of ashesLeft for the wind to decipher.As air intensifies the hunger of fire,May the thought of deathBreathe new urgencyInto our love of life.As fire cleanses dross,May the flame of passionBurn away what is false.As short as the timeFrom spark to flame,So brief may the distance beBetween heart and being.May we discoverBeneath our fearEmbers of angerTo kindle justice.May courageCause our lives to flame,In the name of the Fire,And the FlameAnd the Light.For a New BeginningIn out-of-the-way places of the heart,Where your thoughts never think to wander,This beginning has been quietly forming,Waiting until you were ready to emerge.For a long time it has watched your desire,Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,Noticing how you willed yourself on,Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.It watched you play with the seduction of safetyAnd the gray promises that sameness whispered,Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,Wondered would you always live like this.Then the delight, when your courage kindled,And out you stepped onto new ground,Your eyes young again with energy and dream,A path of plenitude opening before you.Though your destination is not yet clearYou can trust the promise of this opening;Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginningThat is at one with your life's desire.Awaken your spirit to adventure;Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,For your soul senses the world that awaits you.For LightLight cannot see inside things.That is what the dark is for:Minding the interior,Nurturing the draw of growthThrough places where deathIn its own way turns into life.In the glare of neon times,Let our eyes not be wornBy surfaces that shineWith hunger made attractive.That our thoughts may be true light,Finding their way into wordsWhich have the weight of shadowTo hold the layers of truth.That we never place our trustIn minds claimed by empty light,Where one-sided certaintiesAre driven by false desire.When we look into the heart,May our eyes have the kindnessAnd reverence of candlelight.That the searching of our mindsBe equal to the obliqueCrevices and corners whereThe mystery continues to dwell,glimmering in fugitive light.When we are confined insideThe dark house of sufferingThat moonlight might find a window.When we become false and lostThat the severe noon-lightWould cast our shadow clear.When we love, that dawn-lightWould lighten our feet Upon the waters.As we grow old, that twilightWould illuminate treasureIn the fields of memory.And when we come to search for God,Let us first be robed in night,Put on the mind of morningTo feel the rush of lightSpread slowly insideThe color and stillnessOf a found world.For the Artist at the Start of DayMay morning be astir with the harvest of night;Your mind quickening to the eros of a new question,Your eyes seduced by some unintended glimpseThat cut right through the surface to a source.May this be a morning of innocent beginning,When the gift within you slips clearOf the sticky web of the personal With its hurt and its hauntings, And fixed fortress corners,A morning when you become a pure vesselFor what wants to ascend from silence,May your imagination know The grace of perfect danger,To reach beyond imitation,And the wheel of repetition,Deep into the call of allThe unfinished and unsolvedUntil the veil of the unknown yieldsAnd something original beginsTo stir toward your sensesAnd grow stronger in your heartIn order to come to birthIn a clean line of form,That claims from timeA rhythm not yet heard,That calls space to A different shape.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for John O’Donohue“John O’Donohue is a man of the soul. His scholarly meditation on the continuing relevance of Ireland’s spiritual heritage has become a publishing phenomenon.…” —London TimesAnam Cara“A lively spiritual companion to all Celts—or to those who are Celtic in their hearts.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)“Anam Cara is a radiant source of wisdom, a link between the human and the divine. This work is a blessed, rare gem.”—Larry Dossey, M.D., author of Be Careful What You Pray For and Healing Words “This beautifully written book proves that tireless wisdom can bring an amazing understanding about ourselves and the world around us even today.”—Dannion Brinkley author of Saved by the Light and At Peace in the LightEternal Echoes“O’Donohue has produced a treasury for readers of all faiths. A demanding, high-wire existentialist adventure that will inspire readers to re-evaluate their goals and ways of being in the world. O’Donohue ends each chapter with a lyrical blessing or prayer, and his book itself is a profound, healing prayer.” —Publishers Weekly