For Longing

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There are few books I own that I find myself reading over and over again.  I call them my Saturday morning books, as they hold words that (to me) are worthy of sitting with over a cup of coffee with no impending need to be in any particular place at any particular time.  One of these books is a beautiful compilation of blessings by the Irish poet and philosopher, John O’Donohue, called To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings.  This past weekend, I was reading the blessing on “Longing” which I’ve read several times before, but in this moment the words stunned me with their poignancy and life.  

I had just closed my laptop after a frustrating search on one of the popular dating sites when I decided to open O’Donohue’s book. As I set down my device and read these words, my longing transfigured:

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.

You know that longing that just sent you on that god-forsaken search?  That longing doesn’t have to lead you on a never-ending hunt for something just beyond your reach.  Rather than imploring me to run out and not stop until I obtain the particular object or subject of my longing, these words invite me to a radically different response: one of wonder, gratitude and intimacy. 

Who does not carry unsatisfied desire, unrequited love, or yearnings that leave us wanting?  We are all in the same boat searching for places, people, and work worthy of our heart’s desire and call.  But, it is exceedingly difficult to carry hope and desire amidst the ceaseless disappointments and frustrations that surround us in our everyday lives, country, and world.  I know I’m not alone in my longing for more in life—more love, time, connection, meaning, justice, compassion, and on and on the list goes.  

But, do we ever stop to think about the goodness that longings carry?  What if the longings we feel are a reflection of the longing that is felt for us?  Can you imagine?  Longing can, if we let it, lead us back to the source and the satisfaction of our longings—to the One who longs deeply for us.  

Truly, may you, through the ache of your own longing, know the urgency with which God longs for you.  

For Longing

Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

May the forms of your belonging–in love, creativity, and friendship–
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.

May the one you long for long for you.

May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.

May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.

May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.

May your heart never be haunted by ghost structures of old damage.

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.

May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.

~John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us

One thought on “For Longing

  1. Mollie, this is beautifully written and so true. Thank you for inviting the rest of us to see, through our longings, the one who longs for us.


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