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John O’Donohue

For the Traveler by John O’Donohue

Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.


When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:

How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening in conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
You needed
To illuminate
Your way.


When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.


May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.

May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.
~ John O’Donohue


I received this beautiful blessing from a beautiful friend before my sojourn in Peru last month. It feels even more felicitously on this journey. I reached out to him yesterday to tell him the blessing was still blessing me. I received this text in reply which superceded even the exquisite poetry of John O’Donohue because it was a blessing pronounced especially for me. I wanted to share both of these with you today in hopes the spirit and power would flow through me to you as they had fallen upon me from them.


“Gladdened to hear from you, as I was reading the Rohr you gave just shortly before your text. Touched that you held me in mind. Happy the blessing arose again and spoke with grace and harmony. Leaning into your hope for me. Grateful and humbled to join you on this epic saunter in this small way.

May the spirit of St. James guide and protect you. May the intimacy of Christ reveal again your own sacred heart. May your mindful movements perpetually bring Joy – the longing that is having – and may this, my dear pilgrim friend, mind you and remind you ever of your pilgrim status.

With love,
a pilgrim in a pilgrim place”

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