Saturday, 21 July 2018

Blessings on the spaces between. by Anne Booth

When I went to Ireland as a child on holidays with my Irish parents I would often see souvenir  tea towels with 'Irish blessings' on them - things like 'may you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you are dead', or the famous

 May the road rise to meet you, 
may the wind be ever at your back. 
May the sun shine warm upon your face, 
and the rains fall soft upon your fields. 
And until we meet again, 
may God hold you in the palm of his hand. 

Some of these 'Irish blessings' are made up as jokes or as generic inspirational texts, but some are truly translated from ancient Irish prayers. There was also a writer called John O'Donohue, an Irish speaker himself, who kept the ancient tradition going and wrote original beautiful modern Irish prayer poem blessings for every occasion. His most famous book is, I suppose, Anam Cara (Soul Friend) and you can read about him and his work and life here:

Anyway, I thought I'd share about a blessing I say when I write. Like most -if not all - writers, I find that matter how hard and long I work, there is always, inevitably, a gap between what I want my book to be, and the end result. We all strive  to put our ideas on paper but part of the attraction of writing is the impossibility of our task. We don't know what readers will bring to our text when they read it, if they will enjoy it,  we don't know what other books will be out there when our book is published or who will notice it, we don't know how well it will sell, if it will go out of print sooner or later, and sometimes it seems such  lot of work for something we can't be sure will make a difference. Yet HOWEVER I find myself doing it again and again, and I find that each time I start a story it really helps me to say a blessing. I am saying it as a religious person, so I say 'Dear God,' at the beginning, but I think it might be helpful even if you are not religious and you just prefer to say 'A Blessing on' at the beginning. I pray for

 'A blessing on the words, and the spaces between the words.' 

I can do something about trying to choose the best words for the best story, but what the reader gets from the spaces between is out of my control, and I like the idea that blessings will touch the reader even my words, for whatever reason, don't! 

I think we can expand this blessing for our readers, to a blessing for ourselves - the writers of books: 

'A blessing on the books, and the spaces between the books,'

and I hope that we all manage to pace ourselves and give ourselves breaks and fallow periods, and that those who are going on holiday this summer have a lovely time and come back refreshed.


Joan Lennon said...

Thanks, Anne - that's lovely!

Penny Dolan said...

That's a lovely and thoughtful blessing, Anne.

sara gethin said...

A lovely post and a very apt blessing, Anne!

Margaret McAllister said...

Thanks for posting this, it is absolutely right and gives me pause for thought.