Here we are, then: our second Easter in the time of Coronavirus. The shocking novelty of lockdown last year has congealed into weary resignation this year. The acute fear, anxiety and uncertainty of last Easter have ossified into a chronic ache this Easter. And this time last year, it was in the soothing words of This is the Time to be Slow by the Irish poet, author, philosopher and one-time priest John O’Donohue that I found solace: This is the time to be slow – Easter in the time of Coronavirus. So with another chance to pause, to reflect and recharge upon us, I once again turned to poetry in search of messages of hope and comfort and I eventually stumbled across a piece called For One Who is Exhausted – A Blessing which instantly resonated deeply with me. And wonderfully serendipitously, it also turned out to be written by that same philosopher-poet John O’Donohue. May you too find comfort in his gift for the tired soul.
For One Who is Exhausted – A Blessing
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 an endless, increasing weight.
The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laboursome 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 race of days.
At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears 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 colour
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.
From ‘Benedictus – A Book of Blessings’, John O’Donohue.
Bantam Press (2007)