A Blessing for When the World is Ending - Kate Bowler

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A Blessing for When the World is Ending

The English word “blessing” derives from the Old English bletsian and the Germanic blodison, which means to mark as holy with blood. Originally, these words spoke of altar sacrifice involving blood. The connection between blood and blessing fits what I know to be true about life.

It is sometimes bloody. It is often a blessing. It is usually both.

There are some days when we feel we will drown in the exhaustion of trying to stay afloat. Days when we’re teetering on the edge of the world and the weight on our shoulders just might tip us over. Days when blood and blessing are being drained from our limbs and hearts.

A friend recently sent me this blessing from Jan Richardson’s book, Circle of Grace. Her words weave together strength and tenderness, the kind of support I need when I feel like my world is ending. I hope they might offer you the same.

Blessing When the World is Ending

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


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3 years ago

Thanks. Just what I needed today.

3 years ago

Beautiful. Seems quite buddhist to me.

Julie Stroud
Julie Stroud
3 years ago

This is so profound. Thank you for sharing it.

Anita Mathias
3 years ago

Hey Kate, I love your blog and your essay in the NYT. I am a Stage 3 colon cancer survivor, 3 years this month, so not yet officially a cure. I found the strategies at https://www.chrisbeatcancer.com/ very useful (and I did decline chemo). You may well have come across the website, but I thought I would point it out anyway. Every blessing, in every sense of the word!

1 year ago

I love your reflection and the sharing of the etymology. How profound. And the poem that follows is one of my favorites of all time– it has brought me solace in many shattering moments. Thank you for this. It’s a blessing indeed.

1 year ago

I really enjoyed reading this piece! I like your insight on the state of our World…

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