A Blessing for a Friend on the Arrival of Illness
by John O’Donohue

Now is the time of dark
beyond a frontier that
you did not expect.
Abruptly your old life
seems distant.
You barely noticed how
each day opened
a path through fields
never questioned
yet expected deep down
to hold treasure.

Now your time on earth
becomes full of threat.
Before your eyes your
future shrinks.
You lived absorbed in
the day to day so continuous
with everything around
you that you could forget
you were separate.

Now this dark companion
has come between you.
Distances have opened in
your eyes.
You feel that against
your will
A stranger has married
your heart.
Nothing before has made
you feel so isolated
and lost.

When the reverberations
of shock subside in you,
may grace come to
restore you to balance.
May it shape a new space
in your heart
to embrace this illness
as a teacher
who has come to open
your life to new worlds.
May you find in yourself
a courageous hospitality
towards what is
difficult, painful and unknown.

May you use this illness
as a lantern
to illuminate the new
qualities that will emerge in you.
May your fragile
harvesting of this slow light help you
release whatever has
become false in you.
May you trust this light
to clear a path
through all the fog of
old unease and anxiety
until you feel a rising
within you,
a tranquility profound
enough to call the storm to stillness.

May you find the wisdom
to listen to your illness,
ask it why it came,
why it chose your
where it wants to take
what it wants you to
what quality of space it
wants to create in you,
what you need to learn
to become more fully yourself,
that your presence may
shine in the world.

May you keep faith with
your body,
learning to see it as a
holy sanctuary
which can bring this
night wound
gradually towards the
healing and freedom of dawn.