The Inner Landscape of Beauty: John O’Donohue

I was first introduced to John O’Donohue – Irish poet/philosopher – while listening to On Being, a Podcast/radio show which bills itself as a “conversation about religion, meaning, ethics, and ideas”.

Source: On Being Blog, where you can listen to the full interview.

Hosted by Krista Tippett, the show features guests (from the Dalai Lama to Roseanne Cash) who discuss everything from neuroscience to modern religion to farm-to-table food.

{Listen to past episodes here.}

I was riding the Peter Pan bus from Boston to New York, comforted by a mug of tea and an iPod chock-full of new episodes.  From the instant this particular interview began, his words lit up inside me.  They ignited that forgotten place that comes alive while reading a great book, or during a conversation with a friend – where time stands still and you hear yourself saying things you didn’t know you knew.

The interview was recorded just before his death in 2008, and I’ve since gone back and listened to the episode many times since.  I continue to be moved by his words on Celtic spirituality, the power of music/language/poetry, and the wildness of the natural landscape of this world.

Celtic landscape- my cousins’ backyard

As our relationship with time is something that has always fascinated me, I found the following passage particularly beautiful:

I think that one of the huge difficulties in modern life is the way time has become the enemy…for me, philosophically, stress is a perverted relationship to time. So that rather than being a subject of your own time, you have become its target and victim, and time has become routine. So at the end of the day, you probably haven’t had a true moment for yourself. And you know, to relax in and to just be…And what I love in this regard is my old friend Meister Eckhart, 14th-century mystic… And one day I read in him and he said, “There is a place in the soul — there is a place in the soul that neither time, nor space, nor no created thing can touch.” And I really thought that was amazing…that there is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there’s still a sureness in you, 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.

– John O’Donohue

If you find yourself with an hour to spare – in the car, on a bus, or during a quiet weekend morning – I highly recommend giving him a listen.

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4 thoughts on “The Inner Landscape of Beauty: John O’Donohue

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