This morning, I listened to a great interview on the On Being NPR radio show. Krista Tippett interviewed the late poet and philosopher John O'Donohue. I heard the interview when it first aired years ago, and the rebroadcast reminded me of what a wonderful conversation it was. They talked about a wide range of topics, like the role of beauty and our need to be known for who we really are and language and landscape.
Here are some quotes to whet your appetite:
"Well, I think it makes a huge difference when you wake in the morning and come out of your house. Whether you believe you are walking into dead geographical location, which is used to get to a destination, or whether you are emerging out into a landscape that is just as much, if not more, alive as you but in a totally different form. And if you go towards it with an open heart and a real watchful reverence, that you will be absolutely amazed at what it will reveal to you."
"So, I think that it would be great to step back a little from one's life and see around one who are those that hold me dear, that truly see me, and those that I need, and to be able to go to them in a different way. Because the amazing thing about humans is we have immense capacity to reawaken in each other the profound ability to be with each other and to be intimate. That's one of the things I've always thought here is that, you know, there is loneliness here that is covered over by this fake language of intimacy that you meet everywhere."
"I think that beauty is not a luxury, but I think that it ennobles the heart and reminds us of the infinity that is within us. I always loved what Mandela said when he came out, and I was actually in his cell in Robben Island, one time I was in South Africa. Even after 27 years in confinement for something he never — for wrong you never committed, he turned himself into a huge priest and come out with this sentence where he said, 'You know that what we are afraid of is not so much our limitations but the infinite within us.' And I think that that is in everybody. And I suppose the question that's at the heart of all we've been discussing really, which is a beautiful question, is the question of God, you know?"
"When I think of the word "beauty," some of the faces of those that I love come into my mind. When I think of beauty I also think of beautiful landscapes that I know. Then I think of acts of such lovely kindness that have been done to me, by people that cared for me, in bleak unsheltered times or when I needed to be loved and minded. I also think of those unknown people who are the real heroes for me, who you never hear about, who hold out on lines — on frontiers of awful want and awful situations and manage somehow to go beyond the given impoverishments and offer gifts of possibility and imagination and seeing."
Through the magic of the Internet, you can hear the whole show or read the transcript here. That site will give you lots of other resources, including additional poems and a slideshow of the landscape described in the conversation.