Sunday, March 02, 2008

John O’Donohue, Soul Friend

Sunday morning once again found me on my yoga mat and listening to the NPR program, Speaking of Faith.
Before too long, I stopped my stretching and lay back down in bed with Bennie. Rubbing his ears, entwining my fingers in his fur, I listened to the radio.
They talked of beauty and revealed beauty until the tears streamed down my face.

It is strange to be here.
The mystery never leaves you alone.
Behind your image, below your words, above your thoughts,
the silence of another world waits.
A world lives within you.
No one else can bring you news of this inner world.
Through the opening of the mouth, we bring out sounds from the mountain beneath the soul.
These sounds are words….
the uttering of the word reveals how each of us relentlessly creates.
Everyone is an artist.
Each person brings sound out of silence and coaxes the invisible to become visible.

John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

Irish poet and philosopher John O'Donohue was beloved for his book Anam Cara, Gaelic for "soul friend," and for his insistence on beauty as a human calling and a defining aspect of God.

Your identity is not equivalent to your biography.
There is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there's a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you,
and I think the intention of prayer and spirituality and love is now and again to visit that inner kind of sanctuary. …

Though the human body is born complete in one moment, the birth of the human heart is an on going process.
It is being birthed in every experience of your life.
Everything that happens to you has the potential to deepen you…
Patrick Kavanagh captures this sense of the benediction of happening:
“Praise, praise, praise/The way it happened and the way it is.”
Anam Cara

John O'Donohue died in his sleep this January at the age of 52.
His final work will be published posthumously, this month.
It's entitled, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings.

Beannacht, is one of his poems of blessing, which he wrote for his mother after his father's death. “Beannacht” is the Gaelic word for blessing.

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 in to 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.

You can hear John O’Donohue recite Bennacht aloud.

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