Having only recently been introduced to the work of John O’Donohue, (thanks Susan!) I find myself totally enthralled! O’Donohue was an Irish poet, philosopher, theologian, environmental activist, and storyteller whose writings explore the wisdom of Celtic Christianity. O’Donohue was an imbiber of beauty which he heralded as a human calling and an aspect of God. I’ve spent a good deal of time this week absorbed in the beauty of his masterpiece Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom (1998). Anam Cara is Gaelic for “soul friend” and the book is just that as it gently guides you through the spiritual landscape of Irish imagination. The book reads like a prayer. O’Donohue insisted that “it is within our power to transform our fear of death so that we need fear little else this life brings.” Sadly, O’Donohue died young (just 52 in 2008), but he left a legacy of wisdom in a series of books that I look forward to immersing myself in.
“When love awakens in your life, in the night of your heart, it is like the dawn breaking within you. Where before there was anonymity, now there is intimacy; where before there was fear, now there is courage; where before in your life there was awkwardness, now there is a rhythm of grace and gracefulness; where before you used to be jagged, now you are elegant and in rhythm with your self. When love awakens in your life, it is like a rebirth, a new beginning.” (Anam Cara)
As I bask in the beauty of O’Donohue’s wisdom, I am delighted to discover a film he made shortly before his death to compliment Anam Cara. The film in and of itself is a “soul friend.” You can enjoy it below. If you are familiar with O’Donohue’s wisdom or if you’ve never encountered the man, you will enjoy the brief video of O’Donohue speaking to a gathering of psychotherapists on the subject of observation. Quoting Heidiegger “true listening is worship” O’Donohue draws in his audience with humour and makes listening a joy while slipping in his subversive advocacy of a “kind of un-thearaphy”. His humour will wet your appetite for the longer film, which is well worth the time. I recommend putting your feet up with wee dram to add to your enjoyment!
Anam Cara – 2008