Thinking about John ODonohue and Beauty

I am now of an age where any day, every day that I wake up and find that I am still breathing is a wonderful day. And, yet, some days are indeed just a bit more wonderful, more full of wonder than other days.  For my money, there are few people who speak to this better than John O’Donohue.  Here are some lines from his book: Beauty: the Invisible Embrace.  See what you think!

“We live between the act of awakening and the act of surrender. Each morning we awaken to the light and the invitation to a new day in the world of time; each night we surrender to the dark to be taken to play in the world of dreams where time is no more. At birth we were awakened and emerged to become visible in the world. At death we will surrender again to the dark to become invisible. Awakening and surrender: they frame each day and each life; between them the journey where anything can happen, the beauty and the frailty. . . .

The human soul is hungry for beauty… When we experience the Beautiful, there is a sense of homecoming. Some of our most wonderful memories are beautiful places where we felt immediately at home. We feel most alive in the presence of the Beautiful for it meets the needs of our soul. For a while the strains of struggle and endurance are relieved and our frailty is illuminated by a different light in which we come to glimpse behind the shudder of appearances and sure form of things. In the experience of beauty we awaken and surrender in the same act. Beauty brings a sense of completion and sureness. Without any of the usual calculation, we can slip into the Beautiful with the same ease as we slip into the seamless embrace of water; something ancient within us already trusts that this embrace will hold us.”


The human soul is hungry for beauty! Ain’t it just so.  I remember back in graduate school, reading about some research that Abraham Maslow did where he found that people learn better and thrive more in circumstances of beauty.  So, here’s what I think. Let’s each of us go out today and do some one thing to make the world a little more beautiful for someone else. And, let’s each of us go out today, look around at the world we are living in and appreciate, really appreciate one little thing that is just beautiful somewhere nearby – maybe look at the ocean, or a tree or flower, or look into someone’s eyes. Take a deep breath, and say ‘thank you.’ Just a moment to notice and remember. For me, I will be appreciating the beauty of John O’Donohue’s (1956 – 2008) thoughts and words.

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