Saturday, January 24, 2009

Irish Prayer Chanted by Buddhist Monks: A Blessing All Around

Bangkok, Thailand
January 24, 2009

Dear Readers, This poem was sent to my by my dear friend Yvonne in Dublin. It was her gift to me before I left for SE Asia. I decided to use it in class to try to connect with the notion of blessing, something Buddhist monks understand. I read it to them, gave them their own copy, read it again. And we used the words for vocabulary: stumble, deaden, indigo, nourishment. What does the poem mean, I would ask? Twelve pairs of eyes would look at me quizically. But slowly, slowly, we broke it down into its parts. They distilled a bit of the meaning. Just listen to the sound of the words, I would say. It has its own rhythm.

And then I asked them to say the poem with me.
In perfect unison, they marched through the field of words. It was wonderful.

Of course it's wonderful, I realized, finally connecting with a bit of the reality of their world. These men know how to chant. They do it every day.

And so it was. They said Yvonne's poem in perfect harmony.

What a blessing.


On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to waken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisable cloak,
To mind you on your journey.

John O'Donohue

1 comment:

John Murray said...

Thanks for this.
John, the Aussie