The Inner Landscape of Beauty with John O'Donohue
Krista Tippett on Being
I played O’Donohue’s reading of “Beannacht” in Death and Dying today.
This podcast was my drive-time listen today. As with so many other installments of Being (née Speaking of Faith), I was absolutely arrested, this time by the lyricism of a particularly Celtic take on divinity and embodiment, spirit and matter. I was so taken by the poetry with which complexities of our humanity rolled off O’Donohue’s tongue, that it made me sad he could no longer be heard in person. To my mind, Anam Cara will be worth a read, and hope that to your ear, O’Donohue will have been worth a listen. Please join the greater conversation, and cultivate an inner landscape.
John O’Donohue’s Ancient Celtic Wisdoms and Modern Longings: A Show of Remembrance
by Krista Tippett, host
“It’s strange to be here,” John O’Donohue wrote, referring to life. “The mystery never leaves you.” And creating this show has been a lovely, if strange and mysterious, experience.
O’Donohue was an Irish poet and philosopher beloved for his books, including Anam Ċara — Gaelic for “soul friend” — and for his insistence on beauty as a human calling and a defining aspect of God. I sat down with him in the fall of 2007 for a wide-ranging, two-hour conversation. Then just a few months later, before it could go to air, he died in his sleep, suddenly, at the age of 52. And so this hour of conversation (mp3, 51:00) has become a remembrance of him.
We’re putting his lovely, lively, exuberant voice out there in the world, as it touched so many the first time. And he would surely see this as a serendipitous continuation of his life’s work — of bringing ancient Celtic wisdom to modern confusions and longings.
We ended the show with his reading of “Beannacht,” a poem of blessing he wrote for his mother upon the death of his father. A number of listeners who read and loved John O’Donohue’s work have written to us as we began to post this and other poems he read to me during our interview:And when your eyes
the gray window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colors,
indigo, red, green
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.
And we’ve posted our research into the beautiful, essential music for this show — including the style of Gaelic singing called sean-nos and the helpful contributions of an Irish listener from Belfast.
“Music,” John O’Donohue said to me, “is what language would love to be if it could.”