Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Inner Landscape of Beauty

"Your identity is not equivalent to your biography. There is a place in you where you have never been wounded, 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."
~ Irish poet and philosopher John O'Donohue

One of the things I like to do at work when occupied, as I was today, in tediously cutting and pasting 37 pages of Spanish text, charts and legalese into an English version of my layouts is to tune in to a podcast of Fresh Air or Diane Rehm or lately, Krista Tippett, which induces the impression I'm not working, I'm actually sitting in a living room after a dinner party listening to the conversation of stimulating guests while knitting or playing Scrabble. And the virtue of the podcast is that when you find your mind has wandered off for a moment, to the aluminum foil you need to pickup on the way home or what word you can make with e, e, l, m, i, z, and r or the tab settings in your document, you can just slide the little timer thingy back and replay whatever you just missed. Or you can repeat and repeat and repeat something that, you realize suddenly, has left your mouth ajar. Such as this from The Inner Landscape of Beauty:

"In the Celtic tradition, there is a beautiful understanding of love and friendship. One of the fascinating ideas here is the idea of soul-love; the old Gaelic term for this is anam ċara. Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and ċara is the word for friend. … In the early Celtic church, a person who acted as a teacher, companion, or spiritual guide was called an anam ċara. It originally referred to someone to whom you confessed revealing the hidden intimacies of your life. With the anam ċara you could share your innermost self, your mind, and your heart. This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging. … In everyone's life there is great need for an anam ċara, a soul friend, in this love you are understood as you are without mask or pretension. Where you are understood, you are at home."
From his book Anam Cara (on its way from Amazon as I type.)

It's even better heard in an Irish accent. Or this:

"And the question is when is the last time that you had a great conversation, a conversation which wasn't just two intersecting monologues, which is what passes for conversation a lot in this culture. But when had you last a great conversation, in which you over heard yourself saying things that you never knew you knew. That you heard yourself receiving from somebody words that absolutely found places within you that you thought you had lost and a sense of an event of a conversation that brought the two of you on to a different plane. And then fourthly, a conversation that continued to sing in your mind for weeks afterwards, you know? And I've — I've had some of them recently, and it's just absolutely amazing, like, as we would say at home, they are food and drink for the soul, you know?"

Sounds like the Scrabble game might have been pre-empted there.

This was from an interview Krista Tippett conducted with John O'Donohue who died in his sleep on January 3rd, 2008, at the age of 52. This was one of the last interviews he gave. His final work, which was published posthumously, is called, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings.

Though I'm late to the party I hope somehow Mr. O'Donohue knows he has a new fan. What space between us?


Karen Miedrich-Luo said...

Allison, I took the time (remember his musings on time?) to listen today to the link you emailed me not realizing you blogged about it. Just to occupy my hands and eyes, I picked up some paper and oil pastels and began doodling. I "finished" and laid it aside about five minutes before the conclusion and then he read his blessing to his mother, "Beannagh" and I stared in disbelief at my pastel drawing: a green island surrounded by blue sea surrounded by yellow and wrapped all round with red cording -

"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."

Surreal. I'm sending you the pastel.

Karen Miedrich-Luo said...

I forgot to add:

"May there come across the waters a path of yellow moonlight to bring you safely home."

Amy C. Moreno said...

this message made me feel like taking a deeeep though I just ate the most delicious meal I've eaten in a long time. Beautiful. Thanks for writing it. I also am enjoying the new look of your blog. Hope you are certainly seems it by your post.

allison said...

I keep relistening to this (their is a longer, unedited version of the interview on the site, as well.)
Karen, I'm looking forward to seeing this!
Amy, "well" is always a work in progress. Thank you!

ashley said...

Beautiful quotes that you've pulled out. I've had the window of this talk open on my computer... but not yet listened to.

Thank you

amy lenzo said...

mmmmmm. Delicious! I'm so glad to have found you... it was completely unexpected, following my Google Alert for the word "beauty" that led me down a gingerbread path to you from Ashley Cooper's Easily Amazed blog.

It's perfect of course. As a deeply grateful Donohue fan/artist/photographer (is this your work you are displaying - I assume so since there is no other artist credit)/nurturer of community/lover of life I feel right at home here.

And ... as a web designer I'm fascinated by your design, which seems at first glance to be TypePad or WordPress, but from the comment mechanism (and now verified by your url and other little details I didn't see at first) I see it's Blogger. Wow. Well done! Beautiful, indeed.

allison said...

Ashley and Amy,
Thank you for visiting and for your generous comments. Welcome!
I'm behind in posting but you've motivated me to quit slacking. I've taken quick peeks at your blogs and look forward to snatching time to investigate further.
Amy, yes, unless otherwise credited, these are my images.
Do you know the lines from Christopher Smart's Jubilate Agno? One of my favorites:
"For in my nature I quested for beauty, but God, God hath sent me to sea for pearls.."

Susie I. said...

You don't know me but I was friends with Valerie a million years ago in Lubbock Texas...I'm not sure how I wandered onto your blog..but the world has lost a great man in Mr. O'Donohue...honestly I was moved to can one man see and speak so clearly...thank you