Be gentle with myself

I was browsing through a discussion thread on Facebook this morning and came across this poem / blessing. I’m not normally one for poetry, but for some reason, this one touched my soul. It is by John O’Donohue, who was an Irish poet and philosopher, from his book “Benedictus: A Book Of Blessings”.

If you read this blog regularly, you will know that my house is in the process of being sold and I have just moved into a colleague’s home for a year whilst she is out of the country on sabbatical. Shortly after she gets back I will be immigrating back to the UK. And, my 18-year old son has left home and has moved into student digs for his first year at university. There is a lot going on and I am trying to deal with “empty nest” syndrome.

It is a real thing.

It has been my son and I for over 11 years and as a single-parent family, my relationship and bond with my son is strong and I have relied on him for so much including emotional support and company. It is right that he has flown the nest, but I am grieving, lonely and tearful. It will take me some time to get used to a single-person household.

This simple piece of writing reflects so much of what is going on in my life at the moment and provides gentle encouragement for dealing with it.


When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

Weariness has invaded my spirit, and so many things feel like “laborsome” events, which I cannot face, which threaten to overwhelm me completely, things I have done with ease in the past, like moving house. Perhaps moving and packing up for three houses is a bit too much!

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

I have entered “empty time” and a deep sadness has overtaken me but the tears do not frighten me – they are necessary.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

I hope to return to myself soon when I have had the chance to rest and to process what I am feeling. In the meantime, I will take his advice and be “excessively gentle” with myself. 


Be gentle with yourself too,

Debbie blog sign off 2017

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