The Book of John O’Donohue


(1956 – 2008)


I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding. 

The sacred duty of being an individual is to gradually learn how to live so as to awaken the eternal within you. 

Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has a map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique, side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kind of rhythm in your journey…. [and you] …need have no fear of change. 

Beauty is the illumination of your soul.

If you begin to feel the warmth of your soul, there will be youthfulness in you that no one will be able to take away from you. 

The eternal world and the mortal world are not parallel, rather they are fused. 

Nature is a direct experience of the divine imagination. 

The world rests in the night. Trees, mountains, fields and faces are released from the prison of shape and the burden of exposure. Darkness is the ancient womb. Our souls come out to play. The darkness absolves everything; the struggle for identity and impression falls away. 

It is strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone. Behind your image, below your words, above your thoughts, the silence of another world awaits you. 

Wisdom is the art of being courageous and generous with the unknown. 

One of the deepest longings of the human soul is to be seen.

Our longing to belong is the longing to find a bridge across the distance from isolation to intimacy. 

The human face is the subtle but visual autobiography of every person. 

In a sense you are called to be a loving parent to your delinquent qualities.

(The Jungians call these your Shadow side that needs to be befriended and welcomed to the light). 

Put all that you can into the least that you do. Don’t hold back because the greatest gift you can give anyone is the gift of your whole self.

A soul friend …[Canam Ara in Gaelic]  … is a person to whom you could reveal the hidden intimacies of your life. 

Real intimacy is a sacred experience. It never exposes its secret trust and belonging to the voyeuristic eye of a neon culture. Real intimacy is of the soul, and the soul is reserved. 

One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences. Often secrets are not revealed in words, they lie concealed in the silence between the words or in the depths of what is unsayable between two people. 

Real friendship or love is not manufactured or achieved by an act of will or intention. Friendship is always an act of recognition. 

Prayer is really about trying to sanctify the world which we are privileged to walk through. The purpose of prayer is also to bring you closer to the homeland of your heart, so create your own prayer which would be the prayer of your soul. 

Begin by listening to your longings, your desires and your hungers. And then listen to the unexpected that is around the rim of your life. And then out of all of that write down a prayer that is big enough for your wild soul; that is tender enough for your shy, awkward vulnerability; that has enough healing in it to put the ointment of divine compassion over your wounds; that has enough truth and vigour in it to challenge you out of your own complacency; and that has enough graciousness and vision in it to show, and to mirror, your own beauty. 

Write a prayer that is worthy of the great destiny that has been given to you.