Wednesday, September 9, 2015

#250: John O'Donohue

This Irish poet changed my life. I found his bestselling book, Anam Cara, at Christ Cathedral in Dublin last summer. I read it over the course of the entire last year and when I went back this past summer I bought 3 more of his books.

John O'Donohue was an Irishman, Catholic priest and poet with the typical Irish way with words. Reading his work is a treat in itself. The implications his work has for my life is really just a bonus.

I was going to list a bunch of quotes from both the books I have of his, but there are too many. This one from Anam Cara: Spiritual Wisdom From the Celtic World sums up beautifully what I learned deeply from this book:
Your soul alone knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of your self. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more importantly it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey. There are no general principles for this art of being. Yet the signature of this unique journey is inscribed deeply in each soul. If you attend to your self and seek to come into your own presence, you will find exactly the right rhythm for your life. The senses are generous pathways which can bring you home. (p. 84)

This book came into my life while I was on an adventure all by myself--to Ireland alone to begin something new, difficult and unknown. I confronted lots of fears as I made my way over the ocean, and it was quite a "coincidence" that I found this book at the beginning of my trip. I found that the lessons I learned over the past year were all about learning that I am enough all by myself; that I am worth spending time with (by myself); that I do not need to apologize for the space I take up.
Whenever I picked up this book, whatever I read was always applicable to my life, RIGHT THEN. I find that amazing and take that as evidence that God hears my prayers.

The passage above is not only starred a bunch of times, but it is the only page that is dogeared in the book.

What I hear in this passage is validation. It assures me that:

  • I am worth trusting
  • I am worth spending time with (i.e. by myself)
  • My instincts can be trusted
  • Not only can I trust my instincts, but those instincts are how my soul leads me to fulfillment
  • Somewhere inside of me are the answers and my directions [as opposed to looking outside of myself for direction and validation]
  • Only MY soul knows MY destiny. 
  • Living someone else's life is no good. MY life is worth living and the key to my own happiness.

For more about John O'Donohue, you can listen to this podcast of On Being, a radio show on NPR, he was interviewed by Krista Tippitt.

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