Tuesday, January 04, 2011

I was in Bloomingdales in Chicago this morning,
three years ago,
and I picked up an email on my iPhone
from someone wanting to contact my friend Martin quickly
regarding John O'Donohue.
I forwarded it to him.
I flew home from Chicago
and then received the message
that our friend
John O'Donohue has died.

John was on holiday in France with the family of Kristine, a beautiful human he met at The Greenbelt Festival the previous August. They had become the closest of friends and were planning their future together.
I was there when Kristine and John met each other. Privilege.
I snapped a series of pictures and delighted in those moments of their first contact.
I was shocked.
I remain disturbed.
A tragic loss to the world -
to Kristine and
for me somewhat down the line in terms of friendship.

Poet, priest and philosopher,
John was a one-off,
wisest person
you could hope to meet.

My favourite book byJohn O'Donohue is
"Beauty: The Invisible Embrace,"
He writes::
"The human soul is hungry for beauty;
we seek it everywhere -
in landscape,
music, art,
clothes, furniture,
gardening, companionship,
love, religion,
and in ourselves. .
. We feel most alive
in the presence of the Beautiful
for it meets the needs of our soul."

I met him a number of times.
We talked always in a bar
or in my car.
Always with drink in hand
Always with a cigar.
He always wanted to know about me.
My journey
My mission
My stories.

I carried his umbrella
In my car
for one whole year
because he had left it
in a hurry to step before the crowd
of eager humans -
eager to listen to his words
his voice flowing like mercury
his stories
and, always,
his thunderous laughter.

May you consider
reading one of his book
but sipping from the well
one page at a time
one paragraph at a time
one sentence
one word ..........
.. and allow them to linger
within your soul.

His last book, published after his death, is 'Benedictus'.
It's a book of blessings and this is just one of them.

'May there be some beautiful surprise
Waiting for you inside death
Something you never knew or felt,
Which with one simple touch
Absolves you of all loneliness and loss,
As you quicken within the embrace
For which your soul was eternally made.

'May your heart be speechless
At the sight of the truth
Of all your belief had hoped,
Your heart breathless
In the light and lightness
Where each and every thing
Is at last its true self
Within that serene belonging
That dwells beside us
On the other side
Of what we see.'