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To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  4,358 ratings  ·  298 reviews
A beautiful collection of blessings to support you through both the ordinary and extraordinary events of life, from the author of the bestselling Anam Cara

"John O'Donohue is a man of the soul."--Times (London)

To Bless the Space Between Us is a compelling blend of elegant, poetic language and spiritual insight to offer readers comfort and encouragement on their journeys thr
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 4th 2008 by Convergent Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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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. ...more
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
Philip Yancey
This Irish Celtic priest is one of my favorites, and his book of prayers apply to most of life's major events. Beautiful writing. ...more
Nov 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Years ago I listened to John O’Donahue’s Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, my first audio listen, and it was lovely and magical. At some point later, I read his Anam Cara, the copy that I read was one I’d bought for my mother, one of her books that I’d claimed for my own after she passed. The past two mornings I’ve listened to his To Bless the Space Between Us which shares his thoughts on the blessings we require, receive. Those when we are at a loss over some grief we are dealing with, when we are
Cindy Rollins
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20for2020reads, 2020
My friend Kim Huitt sent me one of these blessings and I loved it so much I immediately bought this book which turned out to be perfect Lenten reading. Here is one of my favorite blessings from the book:

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 dire
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
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.
Erik Carlson
Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: m1-year, m2-year, m3-year
It is impossible to choose a favorite blessing, so I will share one that I have turned to many times over the years.

For Courage

When the light around lessens
And your thoughts darken until
Your body feels fear turn
Cold as a stone inside,

When you find yourself bereft
Of any belief in yourself
And all you unknowingly
Leaned on has fallen,

When one voice commands
Your whole heart,
And it is raven dark,

Steady yourself and see
That it is your own thinking
That darkens your world,

Search and you will find
A diamon
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
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
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
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
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."
Justin Wiggins
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This amazing Irish poet and philosopher had a great understanding of language, and I often re-read many of these prayers about death, birth, marriage, loneliness, depression, joy, meals, solitude, joy, celebration, love, community, art, and grace with great joy.
This book came to me at just the time in my life when I needed it, and for that i am immensely thankful.
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
Jennifer Kunin
May 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
My favorite books are the ones I can go back to over and over again and not get tired of it. This to me is one of those books. O'Donohue is one of the wisest people in the world to me (re: his On Being podcast), and this books of blessings is no exception. I just want to tape all of his writing up around my room and my house and everywhere I go. Seriously if I could write half as beautifully as he does I'd be the happiest person in the WORLD.

This really is a book that I'll go back to for years
Nov 13, 2022 rated it really liked it
“Time behaves differently when blessing is evoked.”

A beautiful, non-trite book to awaken you to the blessing of existence, and to the part we can play in richly blessing that existence. The actual blessings that make up the bulk of this book are nice, but the commentary at the end is what I really recommend. Love the idea of time as a creative occasion that we, as the artists of our lives, have the power to shape. And the idea of “found” blessings like friendship that become visible in retrospec
Marianne Mullen
What a beautiful book of poems to honor times and events in our lives needing a blessing. O'Donohue's words speak right to my soul and give me expression for what is within me that I struggle to describe. This little book is packed with love, grace, and unending wisdom. I keep it close to read for whatever my heart and soul needs to hear, or share with others. ...more
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.

Jerry Winsett
Jul 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
To Bless the Space... is one of those, "I read this over and over" books. I find a trip through O'Donohue's prose blessings to be good for the soul. And I frequently use it as a resource for readings when doing service, homilies, sermons or speeches.

One need to to belong to a religion of any kind to give, or to receive a blessing. Blessing someone doesn't require faith other than YOUR faith that the blessing is made and received with love. In fact, in the forwards, O'Donohue specifically states
Sep 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
I wanted to love this book. It had such promise--a book of blessings for all occasions, written by an Irish author who had a Celtic theological bent. Despite the author's claim that these are blessings (and that he prays in Jesus' name), the "open-endedness" of their language dilutes any power they have as Celtic Christian blessings and makes them feel more like random lines of words (the author takes great pains to say it's not who am I to argue? :) ) Other parts were just not bless ...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
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
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 Briano
Apr 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book of blessings from John O'Donohue. ...more
Mariah Dawn
Mar 26, 2022 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book of Irish blessings, what he had to say about thresholds and spring, about kindness being a type of blessing.

My favorite blessing was this:
For One Who is Exhausted

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes in 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.
Wesley Wilson
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it

I started to read this book for a book club through an online yoga community. My goal was to read one blessing a day, and I met this goal for about a month, but then I got busy, and my readings became sporadic. I believe that I will read blessings from this book again, but I would plan to read them when they are more suiting.

Coincidentally, I read the blessing “Blessing for a New Home” when my roommate moved out. It wasn’t a new home, but it felt like a different home. I hadn’t lived alone fo

Carol Bakker
It was OK. I liked certain turns of phrase, but, taken as a whole, it didn't strike me as wonderful. I would rather read St. Patrick's Breastplate over any of these Celtic blessings on any day.

It's gauzy. Nebulous. New Age. Deity of the day. You pick.

And yet. To refuse to begin can be an act of great self-neglect. Who can argue with that? Who would want to?

Perhaps I should just stick with hymns. The lyrics of many hymns, ancient in particular (Of the Father's Love Begotten, for example), have
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve had this book for years and just realized I’ve never reviewed it. This is a volume that rarely leaves my desk, and always has multiple post it stickers to remind me of prayers I want to go back to at various times of the year. The writing is eloquent, yet concise; raw, yet sensitive. I highly recommend this one.
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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.

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“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.”
“This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.”
More quotes…