The Profound Beauty of John O’Donohue

ireland-valley-sligoWe 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. – John O’Donohue

Beauty brings us alive. As we focus our attention on the beautiful we are immersed in the here and now. Whether as music or poetry or a dramatic sunset or the scent of a rose, or the aspen in autumn turning the hillside gold, beauty touches us at our core asking us to be fully present.

Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue (1956 to 2008), called engaging with beauty “a homecoming of the human spirit.” I love all his writings, yet his book Beauty: The Invisible Embrace holds the deepest resonance for me. In it he invites us to open our senses and our hearts and souls to a celebration of beauty.

I was born and raised in San Francisco within sight of the Golden Gate. The natural beauty of the city itself, the rolling hills to the north and the turbulent waters of the straits, combined with a family appreciation for nature and the arts, must have worked their magic on me because beauty has always been important in my life and has certainly fed my creativity.

I love the way in Beauty, John lends a palpable presence to beauty. It’s something we can feel in our bodies and spirits as we stop to witness the brilliant reds of sunrise or a child’s smile or really listen to a Mozart concerto or Beatles tune. It does feel like an embrace; our soul seems to sigh as if fed by whatever we find beautiful. Cultivating an awareness of the beauty can also inspire and fuel our creativity.

Stopping to be aware of the beauty around us can become a sort of meditation. We can find it in the flower growing up through the cracks in the sidewalk or the trees turning red with fall outside our window. When we really notice it we experience as John so eloquently put it “something ancient within us already trusts that this embrace will hold us.”

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