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To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings Hardcover – March 4, 2008

4.9 out of 5 stars 292 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What does it mean to bless others and ourselves? In this collection of O'Donohue's poetic prayers, the author of Beauty and Anam Cara focuses on bringing God's blessings into the liminal spaces in our lives: times of transition, grieving, change or preparation for the unknown. Some of the blessings are for specific situations that are bread-and-butter staples of other prayer books, such as benedictions over births, weddings, new jobs or new homes. Others are unexpected and bravely dark, including a prayer for the loved ones left behind after a suicide, or for a parent after the death of a child. O'Donohue is not afraid to tackle the fear and guilt that many harbor secretly, bringing shame and addiction out into the open even while celebrating new life and new love. His writing is sensitive and deep: As light departs to let the earth be one with night, Silence deepens in the mind, and thoughts grow slow; The basket of twilight brims over with colors, he says of evening Vespers. The book closes with the Irish priest's personal—and often profound—musings on the act of blessing, drawing on Celtic spirituality and the wisdom of poets and philosophers. (Feb. 19)
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Praise for John O’Donohue

“John O’Donohue is a man of the soul. His scholarly meditation on the continuing relevance of Ireland’s spiritual heritage has become a publishing phenomenon.…”
London Times

Anam Cara

“A lively spiritual companion to all Celts—or to those who are Celtic in their hearts.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Anam Cara is a radiant source of wisdom, a link between the human and the divine. This work is a blessed, rare gem.”
—Larry Dossey, M.D., author of Be Careful What You Pray For and Healing Words

“This beautifully written book proves that tireless wisdom can bring an amazing understanding about ourselves and the world around us even today.”
—Dannion Brinkley author of Saved by the Light and At Peace in the Light
Eternal Echoes

“O’Donohue has produced a treasury for readers of all faiths. A demanding, high-wire existentialist adventure that will inspire readers to re-evaluate their goals and ways of being in the world. O’Donohue ends each chapter with a lyrical blessing or prayer, and his book itself is a profound, healing prayer.”
Publishers Weekly


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; F First Edition Used edition (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385522274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385522274
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (292 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

JOHN O'DONOHUE authored several books, including, most recently, Beauty, and the international bestsellers Anam Cara and Eternal Echoes, as well as two collections of poetry, Echoes of Memory and Conamara Blues. He lived in Ireland and frequently traveled to the United States to give lectures and conduct workshops before he passed away on January 4, 2008.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
John O'Donohue died peacefully in his sleep on January 8 of this year. He was working on a book on the late medieval mystic Meister Eckhart. Hopefully, enough of it was completed to warrant a posthumous publication. In the meantime, his To Bless the Space Between Us is O'Donohue's parting gift.

The book is a collection of blessings. That doesn't necessarily sound too exciting until one recognizes the deep-down meaning of a blessing, and O'Donohue's introduction provides some guidance. In our overly busy culture, he writes, we frequently race over the "crucial thresholds in our life" without pausing to take note of their significance. We no longer have "rituals to protect, encourage, and guide us as we cross over into the unknown" (p. xiv). A blessing is precisely one of those protecting, encouraging, and guiding rituals. It memorializes our transitions, connects us with a wider community (since none of us really ever travels alone), and strives to "present a minimal psychic portrait of the geography of change it names" (ibid).

Blessings, then, are all-important. They serve to orient us in our life's journey, establish fellowship with fellow travelers, and remind us of what we too often forget: that we are pilgrims, not haphazard wanderers.

Because there are all kinds of thresholds that lead to new stages of the journey, O'Donohue has written all kinds of blessings: for obvious thresholds such as birthdays, parenthood, adulthood, old age, and death; for interior thresholds such as courage, grief, addiction, suffering, loneliness; for the thresholds of callings to the priesthood, marriage, farming; and for the thresholds that our yearnings for love, peace, and friendship can nudge us towards.
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Format: Hardcover
"Endings seem to lie in wait," John O'Donohue wrote. His certainly did. He died in his sleep, January 3, 2008, on vacation near Avignon. He was just 53.

I met John O'Donohue only once. I had read Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, the 1997 book that made him deservedly famous. "Read" is wrong. At 100 words a minute, I had, over weeks, absorbed enough of this deceptively simple exploration of "soul friendship" to grasp that here was an original thinker, a gifted poet and, most astonishing of all, a philosopher who had forged a way of looking at the world that was painfully aware of human frailty but insistent on the triumphal power of divine love. And he wrote beautifully.

A book this exciting, you have to talk about it. I mentioned O'Donohue to Sarah Ban Breathnach, the author of the Oprah-annointed Simple Abundance and Moving On. As luck would have it, she and O'Donohue were friends. And when he came through New York, Sarah generously arranged a dinner.

That was the night I learned to drink single malt. And was there ever a better teacher in the art of sipping than an Irish philosopher and mystic who had worn the collar for 19 years? I don't recall what we talked about, and neither can my wife, who does not drink; all I remember is the cascades of laughter, the unbuckled happiness of people who are thrilled to be alive, and together, and sharing good fellowship with sympathetic souls in a nice restaurant on a rainy New York night.

An evening like that is so rare I think of it as a religious experience. John O'Donohue, a holy man if ever there was one, had a lot of nights like that.
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Format: Audio CD
The Mystery works in powerful ways through John O'Donohue but never more so eloquently than in this exquisite collection of blessings, even for aspects of life for which we typically don't seek support or can't find words. As he speaks of these transitions, I find it remarkable that this was his last work, published after his sudden death. Those of us who love John will find solace in his acceptance of the sacredness of every aspect of life. He has left a work that will continue to bless and reach us in both celebration and the darkest of hours. To hear his voice adds to the poignancy of these blessings.
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Format: Audio CD
This book of blessings is a great gift to us all. I bought the book and the audio CDs and I have used both almost daily since I received them. It is a CD/book you will use, because the occasions for the different blessings will arise in your life. The author's lovely Irish brogue as he reads the blessings and the music of Irish harpist Aine Minogue allow for a deeper understanding of the written word.
The Irish poet and philosopher John O'Donohue did not shy away from topics that will make us cringe. He wrote a blessing "For love in the time of conflict", a "Blessing for the Parents of one who has committed crime", and - possibly one of the hardest tragedies of all - a "Blessing for the family and friends of a suicide".

John O'Donohue was a priest for 19 years (before he committed all his time to writing and speaking) and he knows about death from his work with the sick and the dying. But at the same time he is intimately familiar with the opposite of impermanence, he knows about the living presence of the light in our lives.
He talks about the luminous light in the mystical landscape of the Burren in the West of Ireland (his home), that reaches us when we become still to listen and witness. If we are mindful, nature and landscape can alert us to the eternal and we might be allowed to see a light that will speak to our human fears.
The blessings in this collection address crucial thresholds: A New Year blessing, a Morning Offering, the birth of a child, starting a new job, the breakup of a relationship, the experience of failure and the joy of friendship to name just a few. The invocations provide the structure of rituals that will protect, encourage and guide us on our life journey.
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