John O’Donohue

The writings of John O’Donohue, an Irish poet and philosopher, are one of my touchstones. John’s writing draws the reader into intimate conversation with neglected or unknown regions of the soul.

Language was his greatest gift — and his greatest blessing to others. His writing is grounded in human vulnerability and the desire, the longing, for a connection to the wonder of the divine in nature, and human life within it. He was one of those rare writers whose words help others make sense of the world, because he was held together, himself, by a sense that “there is an unseen life that dreams us; it knows our true direction and destiny. We can trust ourselves more than we realize, and we need have no fear of change.”

Lately, I have kept Eternal Echoes – Exploring Our Hunger to Belong close by. While reading it, I find myself frequently putting this book down to allow the words to travel through my interior layers and reach their intended destination: my soul.

I’ve quoted him a couple of times and have been planning to write a post about his writing and it’s influence on my spiritual journey sometime soon. I happened to have a free hour in a cafe in Exeter yesterday morning and it was with sadness that I read in the Guardian of his death in January of this year.

Here is a link to a memorial site which has some of John O’Donohue’s writing and a link to his last radio interview The Inner Landscape of Beauty.

Finally, here is a recording of John reading his poem Beannacht, or Blessing.

Beannacht

On the day
when the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble
May the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets into you

May a flock of colours
indigo, red, green
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean blackens
beneath you
May there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

– John O’Donohue ( 1956-2008 )

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