Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ
This Washington Post article on burnout (click here) caught my attention. According to the author burnout caused by chronic stress is widespread. I certainly see and hear more people caught by stress today than I remember in the past.
Personally, the constancy of negative news and the lack of civility can be most discouraging these days. I am finding it is more encouraging to begin the day with poetry than with news. I have been reading John O’Donohue’s Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdomand offer his poem, Beannacht / Blessing to you for consideration.
O’Donohue uses the image the currach. Still much used in the Aran Islands and all along the west coast of Ireland, currachs are made of wooden slats which are then covered in several layers of tar. Originally, they would have been covered in hide. They were designed thus because wood was scarce along the coastal region. They are versatile boats, able to carry large heavy loads as they are so buoyant.  The currach is sometimes referred to as a naomhóg which literally means little holy one or little saint.
The poet says… 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. With these words, O’Donohue is essentially urging us to trust the “path of yellow moonlight” when our currach of thought, our minds and hearts become so filled that they begin to fray from stress. I see his words as an invitation to trust the Spirit within to navigate moments of discouragement as well as to recognize moments of encouragement.
Lent is that very time when we are being invited forward away from darkness into light. I see the final stanza of the poem as both a blessing and a prayer. We ask for light and fluency to sense being enveloped by love. The blessing we might receive by opening ourselves to the poet’s words depends on our deciding to open our hearts to the Sprit dwelling within so that the cloak of love may protect us as we go into the future. Are we recognizing this Love in our lives?
Beannacht / 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 in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken 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 invisible cloak
to mind your life.”

Schools of the Sacred Heart share in the educational mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart as articulated in the Goals and Criteria. The structure supporting Sacred Heart education in Canada and the United States includes the Conference of Sacred Heart Education and the Network of Sacred Heart Schools.  Together they provide services and programs to ensure vitality of mission for the member schools sponsored by the Society of the Sacred Heart.