Weekend Reading
January 17, 2021

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I hit a wall this week.

I’ve been overwhelmed, super irritable, snapping and freaking out over nonsense, and exhausted.

So, so exhausted.

It must be going around, because I’ve had conversation after conversation this week with people who are feeling the exact same way.

Even with vaccines on the horizon, any kind of recognizable normalcy still feels very far away. Meanwhile we’re still home all the time, with no escape from work, parenting, lack of privacy, or total isolation, depending on the circumstances. It’s hard to stay engaged with what’s happening in the world without also feeling as though there’s no escape from the news, which is so often distressing and worrying.

No wonder we’re burnt out. I couldn’t even get through yoga this morning without stopping a few times to get into child’s pose and cry.

A few hours later, bolstered by breakfast and a long shower and some deep breaths, I thought back to a prayer that a friend sent me in the fall.

I’d reached out to her at another tough moment—a really tough moment—asking whether she knew of a prayer that I might call upon in the absence of knowing “what to say” myself. I grew up with prayer, and my yoga practice continues to imbue my life with a sense of devotion to something sacred, but it’s been a long time since I actually prayed.

My friend had a few suggestions for me, and they were all very special. I’ve turned to each of the verses that she mentioned a few times since that exchange happened. And I’ve been able to formulate some words of my own.

But here’s the prayer that feels right today, in this third week of January 2021, at this moment of profound, collective exhaustion. It’s “For One Who Is Exhausted, a Blessing,” by John O’Donohue. You can read it in full, if you think it might resonate. Here’s one passage that hits home for me:

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken in the race of days.

And another:

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

Joy, slow time, a return home to the self—those things seem very far away for me today. But I know what they feel like, and I know that I’ll feel them again.

That’s the best thing I can say to anyone else today: circumstances may continue to be quite difficult for a while, but the way we feel about them is going to change. We’ll get through this.

And in the meantime, we can take refuge in a blessing, a prayer, a song, a poem, a TV show, or a funny meme. Whatever works.

Take care of yourselves, everyone. Happy Sunday. Here are some recipes and reads.


A zippy little wintery slaw.

Vegan Wellington has never seemed like an easy prospect to me, but I trust Amanda!

I’m all about lasagna rolls this winter, and Liv’s butternut variety looks really good.

I’m loving the crispy exterior of Eva’s buffalo baked tofu wings.

A slice of Britt’s red velvet bundt cake is just what the doctor ordered this week.


1. Pandemic experiences from around the world.

2. On being an absolute beginner for life.

3. A sobering look at how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted children’s mental health.

4. Promising news for treatment of life-threatening peanut allergies (with possible implications for other severe food allergies).

5. Loved reading about Jess Wade’s efforts to shift Wikipedia in a direction that includes more entries about scientists from under-represented communities.

Hang in there. And I’ll be back tomorrow with pasta for all of us 🙂


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  1. Awww I feel you on this post. But yesterday inauguration definitely has me feeling a bit more peppy and hopeful. We will get through this! Thanks for the link love. Hugs.

  2. Gena, I always look forward to reading your posts. You’re so genuine, even through your struggles in this difficult time. More and more lately, I hear in your words that you are really struggling to find true joy and a lasting peace in your heart. My heart just breaks for you (all the way over here in Nevada). I really want you to know that there is a peace that is beyond our understanding and it can only come through a relationship with Jesus (Philippians 4:7, Matthew 11:28-29). Please know that God sees you, he hears you, and he cares for you, friend. Also know that I’m praying for you, Gena, and I am here if you would like to know more or have any questions at all. Hang in there!

  3. Bless your heart Gena first for being able to write at all and secondly for doing it so raw and honestly. I love the notion of “empty time” in the O’Donohue poem–in the end it never is completely empty but often it feels that way. We have to remember we are struggling as a nation to leave an abusive relationship and that has literally become a matter of life and death ON TOP of the pandemic. In our family we are looking at the prospect of a different kind of empty time on top of those two things and some days it is crushing. So I bow to your prayer to anything that feels like a prayer or an epiphany to me and I welcome the distraction of considering a butternut lasagne roll. Thank you my darling friend. And you’re right we will get through this even though we don’t know exactly how. Love you always.

  4. Gena, just a quick message to let you know that you are not alone, and to thank you for posting the link to John O’Donohue’s poem.

    There is another of John O’Donohue’s poems that you or your readers may find helpful, a poem that I love, which a friend told me about, called ‘Time to be Slow’. (This is the link my friend sent me: https://newstoryhub.com/2020/04/time-to-be-slow-john-odonohue/). I wrote a post about it on my own blog late last year, although that’s not why I’m commenting today. I find myself turning to ‘Time to be Slow’ over and over again at the moment.

    I am sending you my thoughts. Rebecca xo.

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