Every now and then in my weekly raid of the poetry collections at work I come across a poem which absolutely nails something. Whether it’s a feeling I’ve been having of late, something that connects with the chapter we’re reading that week, or just the general mood brought on by seasonal change or current affairs. This poem nailed it on several accounts.
It’s been a really exhausting month at work and the simple things I rely on to stay grounded seem to be built on sand these days. I’ve had a few weeks of really struggling just to keep up and it’s really knocked me back. Some time off was desperately needed and I came back to this poem, now pinned on the fridge door, a few times throughout the week. It can help to see those things you can’t quit articulate written in black and white. This is normal, you’re not alone, there is a way past this.
A Blessing For One Who Is Exhausted 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 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 for 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.