When the Tide You Never Valued Has Gone Out

A beautiful poem by John O’Donohue recently appeared on the OnBeing blog, which is always filled with soul-stirring insight. It’s a fitting epilogue to my month of trying to slow down long enough to make time for connection.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this month has been how truly deliberate and deeply intentional I must be in making time to connect. It will not happen on its own–we’ve been far too effective in constructing a culture that eats up and crowds out the time it takes to build community.

I’ve also learned that staging such a protest against busyness is a difficult act–one that takes courage and commitment. As I read this poem I was reminded to offer myself forgiveness as I face the reality of having traveled too fast over false ground, and to offer myself compassion as I fumble my way back from disconnection, born of speeding through life.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

For One Who is Exhausted, A Blessing

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 an 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 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 traveled 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.

from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue, published in the U.K. as Benedictus

I'm a writer who's spending 2019 engaging in a yearlong personal journey back to community, connection, and relationship. It's called Project Reconnect. Join me!

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