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Tag Archives: John O’Donohue

Your Vision Is Your Home

John O’Donohue (as you can tell, O’Donohue has joined my array of spiritual writers such as Thomas Merton, Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Douglas Steere, Henri Nouwen, Andrew Murray, Macrina Wiederkehr, Anne Lamott, C. S. Lewis, Barbara Brown Taylor – the list goes on . . . so many good good writers who share spiritual wisdom and  inspire me – who make me want to be a better person).

. . . back to my original thought: John O’Donohue writes about thought in Eternal Echoes.  A short excerpt from the book:

Thought is one of the most powerful forces in the universe.  The way you see things makes them what they are.  We never meet life innocently.  We always take in life through the grid of thought we use.  Our thoughts filter experience all the time.  The beauty of philosophy is the way it shows us the nature of the layers of thought which always stand invisibly between us and everything we see.  Even your meetings with yourself happen in and by means of thinking. The study of philosophy helps you to see how you think.  Philosophy has no doctrines; it is an activity of disclosure and illumination.  One of the great tasks in life is to find a way of thinking which is honest and original and yet right for your style of individuality.  The shape of each soul is different.  It takes a lifetime of slow work to find a rhythm of thinking which reflects and articulates the uniqueness of your soul.

More often than not, we have picked up the habits of thinking of those around us.  These thought-habits are not yours; they can damage the way you see the world and make you doubt your own instinct and sense of life.  When you become aware that your thinking has a life of its own, you will never make a prison of your own perception.  Your vision is your home.  A closed vision always wants to make a small room out of whatever it sees.  Thinking that limits you denies you life.  In order to deconstruct the inner prison, the first step is learning to see that it is a prison.  You can move in the direction of this discovery by reflecting on the places where your life feels limited and tight.  To recognize the crippling feeling of being limited is already to have begun moving beyond it.  Heidegger said, “To recognize a frontier is already to have gone beyond it.”  Life continues to remain faithful to us.  If we move even the smallest step out of our limitation, life comes to embrace us and lead us out into the pastures of possibility.

. . . To think is to go beyond.  Thinking that deserves the name never attempts to make a cage for mystery.  Reverential thought breaks down the thought-cages that domesticate mystery.  This thinking is disturbing but liberating.  This is the kind of thinking at the heart of prayer, namely, the liberation of the Divine from the small prisons of our fear and control.  To liberate the Divine is to liberate oneself.  Each person is so vulnerable in the way he or she sees things.  You are so close to your own way of thinking that you are probably unaware of its power and control over how you experience everything, including yourself.  This is the importance of drama as a literary form; it provides you with the opportunity to know yourself at one remove, so to speak, without threatening you with self-annihilation.  Your thinking can be damaged.  You may sense this but put it down to how life is.  You remain unaware of your freedom to change how you think.  When your thinking is locked in false certainty or negativity, it puts so many interesting and vital areas of life out of your reach.  You live impoverished and hungry in the midst of your own abundance.

The Beauty of the Prayer-Gift

In my prayers, I remember my friends . . . my family . . .  my church . . . and often someone I don’t personally know . . . or a concern that has come to my attention.  I don’t always know what is going on in the lives of those I know casually and sometimes not even those with whom I am intimate; however, I lift them up in prayer.  God knows.  And I am assured that He desires our prayers.

When a friend tells me that I am in his/her prayers, I am heartened and uplifted and feel a closeness – to God and to my friend.

John O’Donohue writes that

It is a lovely gift when a person prays for you.  One of the greatest shelters in your life is the circle of invisible prayer that is gathered around you by your friends here and in the unseen world.  It is a beautiful gift to draw someone into the shelter of your circle of prayer.  When you are going through difficult times or marooned on some lonesome edge in your life, it is often the prayer of your friends that brings you through.  When your soul turns into a wilderness, it is the prayer of others that brings you back to the hearth of warmth.  I know people who have been very ill, forsaken, and damaged; the holy travellers that we call prayers have reached out to them and returned them to healing.  The prayer of healing has wisdom, discernment, and power.  It is unknown what prayer can actually achieve.

When you meet someone at the level of prayer, you meet them on the ground of eternity.  This is the heart of all kinship and affinity.  When you journey in there to meet someone, a great intimacy can awaken between you.  I imagine that the dead who live in the unseen world never forget us; they are always praying for us.  Perhaps this is one of the ways that they remain close to our hearts: they extend the light and warmth of prayer towards us.  Prayer is the activity of the invisible world, yet its effect is actual and powerful.  It is said that if you pray beside a flower it grows faster.  When you bring the presence of prayer to the things you do, you do them more beautifully.

the silence of sculpture

"Ann and Mary" by sculptor Marika Bordes

John O’Donohue in Eternal Echoes Exploring Our Yearning to Belong writes:

Nietzsche said, “The relationship between music and life is not only that of one language to another; it is also the relationship of the perfect world of listening to the whole world of seeing.”

Sculpture attempts the same presence.  The pure silence of a piece by Barbara Hepworth can catch the quiet symmetry at the heart of things.  Giacometti creates such poignant shapes, long slender figures who seem to be thinning out into the nothingness of the air and the gallery.  It is almost as if they are inhabited by some mystical humility which urges them to let go. . . . Sculpture is a powerful and wistful form of presence.  There is an old anecdote that when Michelangelo was finished carving the sitting Moses, he was so enthralled with the figure’s presence that he tapped him on the knee with his chisel and said, “Moses, get up.”

Seguin Sculptor Marika Bordes’ magnificent sculptures in wood are on exhibit at the Seguin Heritage Museum; if you have not yet visited, do go.  Her art is breathtakingly beautiful.

Moses - by Michelangelo

Quote of the Day

Each of us brings something alive in the world that no one else can.  There is a profound necessity at the heart of individuality.  When your life awakens and you begin to sense the destiny that brought you here, you endeavor to live a life that is generous and worthy of the blessing and invitation that is always calling you.

– John O’Donohue

a 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.

– by John O’Donohue

 

entering empty time

A Blessing for One Who Is Exhausted

by John O’Donohue

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The ride 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 for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

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

a wish

FLUENT
I would love to live
like a river flows,
carried by the surprise
of its own unfolding.
– John O’Donohue