A Blessing For One Who is Exhausted

The Transforming Center exists to guide pastors and Christian leaders into life rhythms that will help them be healthy and vibrant for long haul of ministry. If you recognize that you are coming into the fall season still exhausted, we offer this blessings and encourage you to take O’Donohue’s wisdom to heart. It will be good for you and for those you serve.

 A  B L E S S I N G

F O R  O N E  W H O  I S  E X H A U S T E D

By John O’Donohue

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like endless, increasing weight.

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

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 rush of days.

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

You have travelled 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.

©John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us (New York:  Doubleday, 2008), p.125, 126.

John O’Donahue (1956-2008) is an acclaimed poet and Catholic scholar who lived in Ireland and wrote in the Celtic tradition. His published works include the international best seller Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom and Eternal Echoes: Exploring Our Yearning to Belong.

©Ruth Haley Barton, 2010. This article is not to be reproduced without permission from the author or the Transforming Center.

Ruth Haley Barton

Ruth (Doctor of Divinity, Northern Seminary) is Founder and Chief Essence Officer of the Transforming Center. A teacher, seasoned spiritual director (Shalem Institute), and retreat leader, Ruth is the author of numerous books and resources on the spiritual life including Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, Life Together in Christ, Pursuing God’s Will Together, Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Invitation to Retreat, and Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest (Oct 2022).
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My first thought while reading this lovely piece was: to avoid the descent, bring mindfulness meditation into your life.
It seemed to me that the prescription for the the exhaustive predicament, the weary spirit etc. was to notice and take heart of the joy that is happening around you. With a mindfulness meditation practice you can lower that tendency toward a downward spiral and begin to accept life with a calm joy that allows to let go a bit, to trust that things will follow their correct path.
Or at least to allow that path to unfold without the constant need to direct it.

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