• Puts recommended reading lists in the back of his books – framed withn broader context.  Uses quotes and stories
  • Writes out of an experiential way of living
    • find God in place and memory
    • apprehend not truth about God but truth of God.

Six ideas about John O’Donahue’s writing:

  1. Circular ideas/prose.  Has one main theme with smaller ones around it like a celtic knot “eye of imagination follows a circle” not logical/rational/linear > miss the gift.  Risk/openness of circular way subverts this.  Won’t bear the scrutiny of reason.
  2. Not interested in reason but contemplation.  Always a movement away from itself.  Series of non-sequiturs. Read a little then pause and reflect.  Not along >>> but down. Quarter mile long, fathoms deep. “the eternal is at home within you”
  3. Contemplative world waits on the edge of things/imagination (light/dark, edge/centre). Realm of invisible. “Hidden 7th chapter” is silent and hidden within ourselves > a longing never stilled. “invests every action with possibility and pathos…” Prayer is an invisible world and contemplative.

Listen in the abyss of nothingness
for the whisper of the beautiful

4. Made up of these elements: body/landscape/transcience/memory. Body (trust/belonging); landscape (location, know and approach things and people); transcience (always passing away); memory (body, place and passing held together where our vanished lives remain alive – selective transfiguration)

5. Encourages us to break open and unpack internal and external landscapes e.g. root words. Break open familiar and see afresh. When we’re locked/blocked > impoverished. Remove the wall you have put between yourself and the light.

6. Seeks to find blessing. Invocation- calling forth… Calls for change and transformation.


Summer 12-13 058On 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 into 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 curach 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 the protection of the anscestors be yours.

And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.


A philosopy of Ducas

“The longing of a people is caught in the web of their language. Dreams and memories are stored there. A language in the inner landscape where a people can belong. When you destroy a people’s language through colonisation or through the more subtle, toxic colonisation of consumerism, you fracture their belonging and leave them in limbo.  It is fascinating how a language fashions so naturally the experience of a people into a philosophy of life. Sometimes one word holds centuries of experience; like a prism you can turn it to different angles and it breaks and gathers the light of longing in different ways… the phrase ‘ag fillead ar do ducas‘ means returning to your native place and also the resdicovery of who you are.  The return home is also the retrieval and reawakening of a hidden and forgotten treasury of identity and soul.  To come home to where you belong is to come into your own, to become what you are, to awaken and develop your latent spiritual heritage… Ducas also refers to a person’s deepest nature. It probes beneath the surface images and impressions of a life and reaches into that which flows naturally from the deepest well in the clay of the soul. It refers in this sense to the whole intuitive and quickness of longing in us that tells us immediately how to think and act; we call this instinct… You belong to your ducas; your ducas is your belonging. In each individual there is a roster of longing that nothing can suppress.”

Summer 12-13 052


The Stranger (Eternal Echoes)

“It is impossible to be on the earth and avoid awakening.  Everything that happens within and around you calls your heart to awaken.  As the density of night gives way to the bright song of the dawn, so your soul continually coaxes you to give way to the light and awaken.  Longing is the voice of your soul; it constantly calls you to be fully present in your life: to live to the full the one life given to you.  Rilke said to the young poet: ‘Live everything’. You are here on earth now, yet you forget so easily. You have travelled a great distance to get here.  The dream of your life has been dreamed from eternity. You belong within a great embrace which urges you to have the courage to honour the immensity that sleeps in your heart.  When you learn to listen to and trust the wisdom of your soul’s longing, you will awaken to the invitation of graced belonging that inhabits the generous depths of your destiny.”

Summer 12-13 133



Somewhere, out at the edges, the night
Is turning and the waves of darkness
Begin to brighten the shore of dawn.
The heavy dark falls back to earth
And the freed air goes wild with light,
The heart fills with fresh, bright breath
And thoughts stir to give birth to colour.
I arise today
In the name of Silence
Womb of the Word,
In the name of Stillness
Home of Belonging,
In the name of the Solitude
Of the Soul and the Earth.

I arise today

Summer 12-13 160
Blessed by all things,
Wings of breath,
Delight of eyes,
Wonder of whisper,
Intimacy of touch,
Eternity of soul,
Urgency of thought,
Miracle of health,
Embrace of God.
May I live this day
Compassionate of heart,
Gentle in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.