A Blessing for One Who is Exhausted

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“Take refuge in your senses, open up

To all the small miracles you rushed through.”

- John O’Donohue

I love the practicalities of life… organizing a bookshelf, creating a new system at work, the accomplishment I feel when I remember to pack the kids’ lunches well.

But I also love poetry and the lessons we can find there, which can actually be more practical than I’d ever realized. I especially love the poem, A Blessing for One Who is Exhausted, by John O’Donohue.  

Here’s what he has to say about overcoming exhaustion (a recent pitfall of mine and many of the other women I know):

  • Rest. And learn to receive the self you’ve abandoned in the rat race of more, more, more.

  • Allow your emotions to flow. Release the tears and the sadness that have built up from denying yourself what you’ve needed for so long.

  • Slow down and become present to the beauty, the miracles you may have rushed past before… breathe.

  • Stay clear of those who contribute to your weariness. Seek out those who can show you the way, the way to more ease.

  • Know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. It may be a slow journey, but you will know more of your heart on the other side. After you’ve returned from the exhaustion and slowed to joy.

Slowing to joy… yes.

Below, you’ll find the poem in its entirety.  It’s beautiful.  As are you.  


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 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 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 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.