During this pandemic year of devastation and loss, words have failed me to write something meaningful for Christmas. The nights have felt so long for so many, including sometimes for me, that it’s been hard to believe a blessing waits hidden. The promise of Christmas, that a light will shine into the darkness, seemed nearly impossible, and I had no idea how to ignite that hope.

Until a friend sent this poem by Jan Richardson, written for the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, which in 2020 was December 21st. Immediately, I recognized these words as truth for this longest year as well as the longest night.

Even during this dark year, I have been graced by the unexpected release of breath and unclenching of hands, and I pray you will find this blessing during the longest night and beyond.

Marnie C. Ferree

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,
traveling 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

© Jan Richardson from The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief

Jan Richardson’s website