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To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  2,230 ratings  ·  164 reviews
From the author of the bestselling Anam Cara comes a beautiful collection of blessings to help readers through both the everyday and the extraordinary events of their lives.

John O'Donohue, Irish teacher and poet, has been widely praised for his gift of drawing on Celtic spiritual traditions to create words of inspiration and wisdom for today. In To Bless the Space Between
Hardcover, 222 pages
Published March 4th 2008 by Convergent Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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4.51  · 
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 ·  2,230 ratings  ·  164 reviews

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Casey Pick
Aug 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a book of blessing-poems, and I suppose the simplest way to express its impact on me is to say that I was blessed when my friend put this book into my hands. Over the course of a summer away from home, I read it cover to cover, and the experience was like being a stone that fell into a creek - gradually, gently, each page worked to wear away some rough edges, leaving a new smoothness of spirit behind. I can't really point to a particular piece that sticks out in my mind - it isn't that k ...more
Brandy Walker
Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"Blessed" is a grossly overused word. But, this. This is different! There is something so pure about a blessing: words woven together with a delicate pen so that someone else might experience joy and love and happiness. I use this to bless people weekly, if not daily. Amazing.
Mar 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This is a beautiful collection of blessings by John O'Donohue, that has come out just month's after his untimely death. His celtic poems and voice are eloquent. His blessings are absolutely beautiful. Listening to him read them, with his Irish dialect, is captivating. At the end of the book, he writes about retrieving the lost art of blessings. "Something deep in the human soul seems to depend on the presence of kindness; something instinctive in us expects it, and once we sense it we are able t ...more
May 14, 2015 rated it liked it
May I live this day
Compassionate of heart,
Clear in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.

After a Destructive Encounter (!!!)
Now that you have entered with an open heart
Into a complex and fragile situation,
Hoping with patience and respect
To tread softly over sore ground in order
That somewhere beneath the raw estrangement
Some fresh spring of healing might be coaxed
To release the grace for a new journey
Beyond repetition and judgment,
And have achieved nothing of that,
Travel Writing
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
John O'Donahue's last book, published after his untimely death, is one of the most profoundly touching books I have ever encountered.

I am not sure I can say I merely read this book, I more inhabited it. I reach for it when I need a moment of grace, a moment of support, or a moment of remembrance that we are all ephemeral.

John O'Donahue writes: has been one of the deepest longings of the human heart to strain against the erosion of one's life, to find a way of living and being that manages
Apr 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the richest books I've ever had the pleasure of reading.
Incredible source for family, ministry, prayers, toasts and even times of remembrance.
Mr. O'Donohue uses the most beautiful and poetic language to bless our modern day with life, hope + restoration for the soul.
Laurie Buchanan
Apr 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is the last book from Irish poet and spiritual teacher John O'Donohue, one of the most lyrical writers of our times, who died suddenly and unexpectedly in January 2008.

A blessing breaks down the barriers between people and is the ultimate form of intimacy. It changes the environment around us and opens new possibilities of connection, healing, and transformation. O'Donohue laments that in the West we have "no rituals to protect, encourage, and guide us as we cross over into the unknown." Th
Sarah Clarke-Smith
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
I recently heard John O'Donohue on one of my favorite podcasts, "On Being.” I fell in love with his Irish accent and his message of beauty, souls and sense of the meaning of life. I loved his sharing and perspective on ancient Celtic wisdom, German philosophers and even bits of his Christian message about what God is. “The word blessing evokes a sense of warmth and protection; it suggests that no life is alone or unreachable. Each life is clothed in rainment of spirit that secretly links it to e ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
It's a book of blessings for things you might expect (a new home, a birthday, retirement) but also so many other blessings: a blessing for courage, for friendship, for an addict, for one who is exhausted, for a nurse, on meeting a's all so beautiful and alive and dealing directly with souls. The author divides the blessings into sections and the end of the book is what he describes as, "a poetic essay on recovering the lost art of blessing." I don't think there has been a single da ...more
Pat Loughery
Feb 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely gorgeous poetic words of blessing for everyday events in life: birth, illness, breaking up, entering adulthood, meeting a stranger, so many others.

John o'Donohue's voice is sacred and whimsical and wise and dearly missed,

I would rate this book 7 stars on a scale from 1 to 5. It is that beautiful.

For a fantastic interview of O'Donohue, see Krista Tippett's podcast On Being, at, completed just prior yonhis untimely death. It helps so much to hear
Jenny Benson
Sep 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Do yourself a favor and get this in hard copy. You'll return to it again and again. It's a great way to stop and take in the moment when you're starting something new, at a life threshold, or just experiencing loss or love.
"A blessing evokes a privileged intimacy. It touches that tender membrane where the human heart cries out to its divine ground."
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book of blessings for every situation. Would to love to have this one on my bookshelf as the blessings are great to share.
Emily Davenport
Apr 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book of blessings from John O'Donohue.
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
A beautiful book of blessings for significant occasions, inspired by Celtic Christian thought.
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this book so much. I have used these blessings to bless individuals and groups in my work place. John O’Donohue’s words touch me and others at the level of the heart.

May you who read this be blessed. May the gift of words flower and grow in the seat of your heart.
Julie Vandlen
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book of blessings by the Irish poet John O'Donohue is essential for those going through transitions in life or anyone in need of insight. I am eternally reading this book because it sits next to my bed and i pick it up and read an installment as i need one. O'Donohue has included blessings for many stages of life; a new job, for the new mother, new beginning, or simply for emotions being experienced. It is beautifully written and I feel that everyone should own this book because you never k ...more
Jan 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
I was working on a sermon on "covenant" for this past Sunday, and found this book very helpful for why we human beings need ritual, blessing, ceremony, verbal acknowledgment of transition and "crossings" in our lives. It's a beautiful collection of Blessings for almost every occasion you can imagine.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As a pastor, this little book of poems and blessings is beyond helpful. It's especially good for couples who are just starting out in their spiritual journey because it's expansive enough to not feel too stiff or threatening.
Dec 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most beautifully crafted books that I have ever read.
It is a book that I will always cherish, take notes on and in, memorize and love.
This is a must read.
Sep 20, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm conflicted about this. I was hoping to love it. It seemed right up my alley — O'Donohue even described the act of blessing as "like the discovery of a fresh well" in the "parched deserts of postmodernity," which is exactly the sort of metaphor I find tantalizing.

And I did like a lot of the book. Each blessing is written a loose poetic form and addresses one topic, life event, or challenge. There were a few — "For Eros", "For Love in the Time of Conflict", and "For Belonging" — that I loved.

Mary Blendermann
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
A few of the blessings in this book are truly magical and a gift to this world - among them "Beannacht," "For A New Home," "For Solitude," and "Vespers." John O'Donohue has a good ear for poetic blessing and a wonderful depth of understanding about how to offer comfort and power through words. However, a lot of the blessings start to feel and sound a little prosaic, at least when you're reading the book straight through. I probably wouldn't have felt so exhausted by the repetitive meter and phra ...more
Mara Vernon
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book of John O'Donohue's thoughts and blessings. A great resource to have on hand for life's significant moments. I loved what O'Donohue said about blessings, "A blessing is different from a greeting, a hug, a salute, or an affirmation; it opens a different door in human encounter. One enters into the forecourt of the soul, the source of intimacy and the compass of destiny."

To Bless the Space Between Us is a resource for the faithful and secular alike. O'Donohue says, "Wherever one
Mar 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I...I don't know.

Perhaps it was that I didn't attend to its stated purpose as a book of informal liturgics. Perhaps my aesthetic is unrefined, or overly refined. Perhaps I brought a warped expectation, shaped by the delicious couplets and quatrains whose excerpted sharing drew me to this book.

Here and there, it was lovely and meaningful. It comes, clearly, from a gracious soul. I did not dislike it.

But more often than not, it didn't quite work. I wanted it to work, to sing, to resonate. I felt l
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another brilliant book by John O'Donohue. I am a huge fan of John's writing and this book of course was another fantastic read. What struck me the most was how much it hit home that there are so many occurrences in our lives that we take for granted, yet really they are opportunities for opening up to seeing the blessings in our lives or providing blessings to others. Ritual around crossing thresholds is almost non-existent so reading this book reminded me of how much magic there really is in th ...more
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Close your eyes. Gather all the kindling About your heart To create one spark. That is all you need To nourish the flame That will cleanse the dark Of its weight of festered fear. A new confidence will come alive To urge you toward higher ground Where your imagination Will learn to engage difficulty As its most rewarding threshold”

This was a gem of a book. Many of O’donohue’s blessings touched my heart and I highlighted my favourite passages such as the one above so I can revisit them in the fu
Carrie Zinck
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m normally a huge fan of the Kindle format. I like the way Clippings accumulate into a commonplace book. I like the ability to get an instant definition. I like the portability.

However, I would advise a hard copy for this one. For one, it’s not really designed to just sit down and read through. For another, the poems that speak to one at this moment may not be the same ones needed in another moment, and the Kindle format makes it hard to flip through looking for the right thing.

Beautiful ble
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
To mark this slim volume as read is to only indicate that I have indeed read most of the poems in this volume. This is in my reality a book that I will never quite finish reading, I will return to it time and time again to explore what wisdom it may offer me. I've read other John O'Donohue books at earlier times in my life, and have always found that his Catholic background in no way limit the depth and affect of the universal love found in his words. These are words for many people regardless o ...more
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I first heard John O’Donahue on an On OnBeing Podcast. He was discussing his latest book, Beauty. I was struck by the gentleness of his voice and the calming words he spoke. I loved his views on nature and seeing the beauty in the outdoor landscapes and the beauty within ourselves. I immediately became a fan and knew I wanted to read his books of poetry and prose. I wasn’t disappointed. His writings feel like a warm blanket to my soul. What a tender soul he was. I
Sue Ronnenkamp
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Beautiful book filled with blessings of every imaginable kind for every possible piece of our lives. I bought this book years ago and focused on only a few selections related to aging and moving life forward. These past months, I decided to slowly read it all from cover to cover and am so glad I did. This one’s a keeper and I predict it’ll get pulled off my bookshelf often in the years to come.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
If you are feeling like you need a self pick-me-up, look no further. John O'Donohue covers every life event in a poetic energy that will leave you contemplating things in a positive manner. A book that will remain on my bookshelf for many, many years. I received this book as a gift from a dear friend. I passed a copy on to a dear friend who was struggling through a divorce. May he find more peace, answers, and happiness after reading it.
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John O'Donohue, Ph.D., was born in County Clare in 1956. He spoke Irish as his native language and lived in a remote cottage in the west of Ireland until his untimely death in January 2008. A highly respected poet and philosopher, he lectured throughout Europe and America and wrote a number of popular books, including Anam Cara and To Bless the Space Between Us.
“For Equilibrium, a Blessing:
Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity by lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what's said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough
to hear in the depths the laughter of god.”
“Each of us is an artist of our days; the greater our integrity and awareness, the more original and creative our time will become.” 85 likes
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