*Alternate* First Reading: Jan Richardson – “Beloved Is Where We Begin”

“Beloved Is Where We Begin” by Jan Richardson

If you would enter into the wilderness, do not begin without a blessing.

Do you not leave without hearing who you are:
Beloved, named by the One who traveled this path before you.

Do not go without letting it echo in your ears, and if you find it is hard to let it into your heart, do not despair.
That is what this journey is for.

I cannot promise this blessing will free you from danger, from fear, from hunger or thirst,
from the scorching of sun or the fall of the night.

But I can tell you that on this path there will be help.
I can tell you that on this path there will be rest.

I can tell you that you will know the strange graces
that come to our aid only on a road such as this,
that fly to meet us bearing comfort and strength,
that come alongside us for no other cause that to lean themselves
toward our ear with their curious insistence whisper our name:
Beloved.      Beloved.     Beloved.

The words of Jan Richardson.