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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


the inner history of a day

THE INNER HISTORY OF A DAY
by John O’Donohue

No one knew the name of this day;
Born quietly from deepest night,
It hid its face in light,
Demanded nothing for itself,
Opened out to offer each of us
A field of brightness that traveled ahead,
Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps
And the light of thought to show the way.

The mind of the day draws no attention;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words,
Drawing us to listen inward and outward.

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.

Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.

So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.

a blessing for equilibrium

A BLESSING FOR EQUILIBRIUM
by John O’Donohue
from Benedictus – A Book of Blessings

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the music of laughter break through your soul.

As the wind wants to make everything dance,
May your gravity be lightened by grace.

Like the freedom of the monastery bell,
May clarity of mind make your eyes smile.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May a sense of irony give you perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,
May fear or worry never put you in chains.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough
To hear in the distance the laughter of God.

John O’Donohue believed that “we do not always know who among us is suffering some unnameable torment, nor who is rejoicing at the blessing of a lifetime.” [from his friend Gareth Higgins’ website]

We all have hidden sorrows, concerns, and joys; we are all in this together. 

We are all in this together.

I wish my friends, my acquaintances, and those whom I don’t (yet)  know – blessings.

blessings for equilibrium

 

imagination as the path of spirit

John O’Donohue – article by John Draper in Church Times

THE POET, philosopher, academic, and best-selling spiritual writer John O’Donohue needs coffee. “Whiskey happened last night,” he explains in a lilting, lyrical Irish accent over breakfast. He can make even a hangover sound sublime. “We drank a beautiful bottle of single malt that didn’t die without proper spiritual necessity.”

A former Roman Catholic priest, he may be the author of serene, numinous prose, but he is no effete guru. He is a farmer’s son from Conamara, in the wilds of western Ireland. His physical presence is strong, and immediately felt. He radiates energy, warmth, and mischief, and there is more than a hint of a glint in his eye. “I never read spiritual books,” he says, somewhat provocatively, since he has written two of the past decade’s popular spiritual books: Anam Cara and Eternal Echoes. “Can’t read them. The stuff on spirituality is like candyfloss,” he whispers conspiratorially. “You put a knife down through it, and you come to a spine at no point. It’s just goo. The shops are full of it, and people are consuming it.”

today’s prayer

May I live this day

Compassionate of heart

Clear in word

Gracious in awareness

Courageous in thought

Generous in love

John O’Donohue

Happy Birthday – 15 year old

For your Birthday

Blessed be the mind that dreamed the day

The blueprint of your life

Would begin to glow on earth,

Illuminating all the faces and voices

That would arrive to invite

Your soul to growth.

Praised be your father and mother,

Who loved you before you were,

And trusted to call you here

With no idea who you would be.

Blessed be those who have loved you

Into becoming who you were meant to be,

Blessed be those who have crossed your life

With dark gifts of hurt and loss

that have helped to school your mind

in the art of disappointment.

When desolation surrounded you,

Blessed be those who looked for you

And found you, their kind hands

urgent to open a blue window

in the gray wall formed around you.

Blessed be the gifts you never notice,

Your health, eyes to behold the world,

Thoughts to countenance the unknown,

Memory to harvest vanished days,

Your heart to fell the world’s waves,

Your breath to breathe the nourishment

Of distance made intimate by earth.

On this echoing-day of your birth,

may you open the gift of solitude

In order to receive your soul;

Enter the generosity of silence

To hear your hidden heart;

Know the serenity of stillness

To be enfolded anew

By the miracle of your being.

– John O’Donohue

my friend is dying

It is so painful to read of the suffering of my friend Chris.  It has been years since we’ve seen one another – but the years don’t diminish the caring – and Chris’s daughter is keeping  friends and family aware of Chris’s situation via the internet.  The love this family shares and the love Chris has inspired touches me deeply.  I hate hate HATE that Chris is enduring such pain and yet I know she is surrounded with love – the love of her family and her friends – and most importantly, of her God.  When one reads the comments on the blog about Chris, it is obvious that she has touched many many people with Christ’s love.  But I still HATE HATE HATE that she is going through such suffering.

My poet of the month (thankful I’ve discovered the sensitive and gifted poet John O’Donohue) writes that . . .

Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts
Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives,
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of color

The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was alive, awake, complete.

We look toward each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

Thought we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul’s gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows

And music echoes eternal tones.
When orchids brighten the earth,
Darkest winter has turned to spring;
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:
To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again.

I know that Chris’s family is holding each moment with Chris in  tenderness and love – and I know Chris, amidst her suffering, also treasures these days with her loved ones.  Chris’s daughter writes: “We ask that your continued prayers will be to bring comfort with the suffering Mom continues to experience. Our family is grateful for each day we are given to be with Mom.”

God bless Chris and God bless the Cook family.

poetry

It seems as though I sometimes find someone or something a little late.  Have you ever had that feeling?

I’ve just discovered the poet John O’Donohue, whose poetry speaks to the Soul of Me – and learn that he died in 2008.

Or maybe I’ve not discovered this gifted poet too late, for his poetry and his Self  will undoubtedly live long after I’ve left this earth.  I’m thankful I have now found him.

Irish poet and philosopher John is laid to rest in Fanore, Co Clare, Ireland. O’Donohue was a native Irish speaker, a former priest, and author of books that provided sustenance for many souls hungering for connection in a shallow, narcissistic world — a world full of what called the ‘religion of rush.’   He died suddenly on Jan. 4, ( 2008) near Avignon, France. He was 52.

One of his poems – To Come Home To Yourself

May all that is unforgiven in you
Be released

May your fears yield
Their deepest tranquillities.

May all that is unlived in you
Blossom into a future
Graced with love.

I will quite likely be posting more poems of O’Donohue – for his poetry not only speaks to me, his words speak/cry to be shared.

New Beginnings – a new year

A clean slate feels good.

Remember the smell of new tablets and pencils at the beginning of a school year when you were very young?

I’m trying to imagine that now as I begin a New Aimless Blog in 2010.

I’ve been reading and enjoying and meditating on John O’Donohue’s poetry and share with you one about Belonging.

FOR BELONGING

May you listen to your longing to be free.

May the frames of your belonging be generous
enough for your dreams.

May you arise each day with a voice of blessing whis-
pering in your heart.

May you find a harmony between your soul and
your life.

May the sanctuary of your soul never become
haunted.

May you know the eternal longing that lives at the
heart of time.

May there be kindness in your gaze when you look
within.

May you never place walls between the light and
yourself.

May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world
to gather you, mind you, and embrace you in
belonging.