A Blessing for the Traveler

By John O’Donahue

Every time you leave home,
another road takes you
into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
will pretend nothing
changed since your last visit.

When you travel,
you find yourself
alone in a different way,
more attentive now
to the self you bring along
your more subtle eye watching
you abroad; and how what meets you
touches that part of the heart that lies low at home:

How you unexpectedly attune
to the timbre in some voice,
opening a conversation
you want to take in
to where your longing
has pressed hard enough
inward, on some unsaid dark,
to create a crystal of insight
you could not have known
you needed to illuminate your way.

When you travel,
a new silence goes with you,
and if you listen,
you will hear
what your heart would love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
to take the time to bless your going forth
to free your heart of ballast
so that the compass of your soul
might direct you toward
the territories of spirit
where you will discover
more of your hidden life,
and the urgencies that deserve to claim you.

May you travel in an awakened way,
gathered wisely into your inner ground;
that you may not waste the invitations
which wait along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrived refreshed,
and live your time away to its fullest;
return home more and enriched, and free
to balance the gift of days which call you.


My pastor and church offered this blessing for me the Sunday before I left for Kinshasa, DR Congo. I glued it into my journal and reflected on it several times during my trip. I will be posting about my trip in the next several days as I continue pondering my experience–I think I will be reflecting on the trip for a long time to come!

6 thoughts on “A Blessing for the Traveler

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