I can’t remember a time when I did not know the work of John O’Donohue even though I was in my 40’s when I read his first book, Anam Cara (1996). His prose and poetry had that quality—similar to the experience of meeting someone for the first time and feeling like you had known that person forever. I eagerly awaited each new book. Later when he published audio versions of his works I splurged! It was not just his amazing work; it was also the Irish accent that brought my mother’s parents so sweetly to mind and heart.
Later I was intrigued by his collaboration with the psychiatrist, Dr. Dan Siegel (1) who describes his own work:
“Neural integration – the linkage among differentiated aspects of the brain – allows for flexibility and adaptability, and expresses itself outwardly as harmony, kindness, and compassion.”
Dr. Siegel is the author of The Developing Mind, How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are. Together they focused on human creativity and the sacred.
John was a scholar who wrote his dissertation on the German philosopher, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1830). Dear to my heart, he also wrote and spoke about the medieval German theologian, philosopher, preacher, and mystic, Meister Eckhart (c. 1260 – c. 1328). He was working on a book about Meister Eckhart when he died (1956-2008).
A native of County Clare in the west of Ireland, he will be remembered for making Celtic spirituality newly available and compelling.
To learn more about his life and work:
In His Own Words
John O’Donohue Writing in Anam Cara
“When you cease to fear your solitude, a new creativity awakens in you. Your forgotten or neglected wealth begins to reveal itself. You come home to yourself and learn to rest within. Thoughts are our inner senses. Infused with silence and solitude, they bring out the mystery of inner landscape.”
“An interesting question to ask yourself at night is,
What did I really see this day?”
“There is a lantern in the soul, which makes your solitude luminous.”
“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 protection of the ancestors be yours.”
“May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique, that you have a special destiny here, that behind the facade of your life there is something beautiful, good, and eternal happening. May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride, and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.”
“A friend is a loved one who awakens your life in order to free the wild possibilities within you.”
- Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom (1996)
- Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong (1998)
- Conamara Blues: Poems (2000)
- Divine Beauty: The Invisible Embrace (2003) (Published in the US as Beauty: The Invisible Embrace (2003))
- Benedictus: A Book of Blessings (2007) (Published in the US as To Bless the Space Between Us (2008))
- The Four Elements: Reflections on Nature (2010)
- Echoes of Memory(1994; reprinted 1997 and 2011)
- Walking on the Pastures of Wonder(2015) (Published in the US as Walking in Wonder (2018))
Imagination as the Path of the Spirit
Sharon Salzberg – Metta Hour
The Inner Landscape of Beauty from American Public Media “Speaking of Faith”, the last interview (Fall 2007) with O’Donohue before his death.
“John O’ Donohue – 2006 Video Talk (Findhorn Foundation)”. Caroline Myss website. October 2007. Archived from the original on 9 November 2011.