John O'Donohue: A New Year's Wish
by Nancy Arbuthnot
What better way to welcome the New Year than with these words of Irish poet-philosopher John O’Donohue: “May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder”?
The quiet, insistent wisdom of John O’Donohue (1965-2008) has enthralled me since I first encountered his work at a poetry conference last month.
An ordained priest, O’Donohue earned a Ph.D. in Philosophical Theology from the University of Tubingen in 1990 with a dissertation developing a new interpretation of consciousness and personhood.
He later integrated elements of Celtic mysticism into his thinking about how the material and the spiritual worlds intermingle in human experience, and began to publish poetry that gives voice to our modern sense of but steadies at the same time steadies us with its generous vision.
His book of poetic “blessings,” To Bless the Space Between Us, was released in the U.S. in 2008. “For a New Beginning,” a perfect poem for meeting this new year, is from that book:
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
O’Donohue’s official website can be found here: http://www.johnodonohue.com/
Happy New Year, dear readers! May you unfurl yourselves to the world that awaits you!