Third Thursday in Advent: The Longest Night

photo_346_20111219And the darkness did not overcome it© Jan Richardson.

This is the time of the year when some churches plan what’s called a “Blue Christmas” liturgy. This liturgy is a time for prayer and worship especially for those who are experiencing grief, loss, and suffering.  The season of Advent and Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for these friends when the world puts on a jolly show, though too often this merriness is more false than true.  Coming together and acknowledging this disharmony can be a comfort.

On this longest night of the year, a gift for all of us wherever we are today.  Thank you, The Rev. Jan Richardson, for “serving us with the gift you have received,” (1 Peter 4.10) through art and written blessings.

Blessing for the Longest Night

All throughout these months
as the shadows
have lengthened,
this blessing has been
gathering itself,
making ready,
preparing for
this night.

It has practiced
walking in the dark,
with its eyes closed,
feeling its way
by memory
by touch
by the pull of the moon
even as it wanes.

So believe me
when I tell you
this blessing will
reach you
even if you
have not light enough
to read it;
it will find you
even though you cannot
see it coming.

You will know
the moment of its
by your release
of the breath
you have held
so long;
a loosening
of the clenching
in your hands,
of the clutch
around your heart;
a thinning
of the darkness
that had drawn itself
around you.

This blessing
does not mean
to take the night away
but it knows
its hidden roads,
knows the resting spots
along the path,
knows what it means
to travel
in the company
of a friend.

So when
this blessing comes,
take its hand.

Get up.

Set out on the road
you cannot see.

This is the night
when you can trust
that any direction
you go,
you will be walking
toward the dawn.

—Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow
© Jan Richardson (

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