John O'Donohue — The Inner Landscape of Beauty
January 26, 2012

The late Irish poet and philosopher, John O'Donohue, is beloved for his book Anam Ċara, Gaelic for "soul friend," and for his insistence on beauty as a human calling and a defining aspect of God. In one of his last interviews before his death in 2008, he articulated a Celtic imagination about how the material and the spiritual, the visible and the invisible worlds intertwine in human experience.

(photo: Nuton)


62 reflections
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Shortened URL

Selected Poems

John O'Donohue's Poems Recited by the Poet Himself

Since many of O'Donohue's recitations didn't make it into the final, produced show, we wanted to offer them for download.

SoundSeen (our multimedia stories)


We've woven together the late Irish poet's reading of his poem with his friends' photographs of the Celtic landscapes of the Connemara landscape he loved.

Pertinent Posts from the On Being Blog


Researching music, we discovered sean-nos, an "old style" of Gaelic singing. Watch this mesmerizing video of Iarla Ó Lionáird singing in a pub.


Krista reflects on her Irish respite and the words of John O'Donohue on beauty as "a kind of homecoming…"

An Irish listener from Belfast contributes to our musical selections.


Producing a narrated slideshow takes a fair bit of time, even it's brief. Our producer traces her journey and the small world we travel in.


O'Donohue's insight inspires the question: how do you express your inner gifts through your work?

About the Image

John O'Donohue walks in the countryside near his boyhood home of Connemara, Ireland.

(photo: Nuton)

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Thank you for the lovely broadcast with John O'Donohue. I was actually moved more by Krista's interview with him than by reading his Anam Cara.

In the interview, Celtic music was briefly highlighted. Have any of you delved into the music of Loreena McKennitt? I find her work to be deeply thoughtful and spiritual. Pieces such as Skellig and Dark Night of the Soul keep drawing me back for their moving musicality as well as their lyrics. I think an interview between Krista and Loreena would be awesome!


Just running in to let you know you have a brand new fan! Reading one post on your blog made
me enamored immediately. Really, you are great!

The invention of the digital audio player, commonly known as mp3 had revolutionized the music world.
This very portable, lightweight and affordable music gadget is overflowing the music industry.
In many places and instances, you will see people wearing earphones while walking,
doing workouts or traveling and these people are
surely listening to good music from their mp3 player 8GB.

These are no longer the gadgets specific to geeks, nerds and tech-savvy people.
It seems to be a must-have for everyone who has ears for music.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the piece on John O'Donohue, who ranks among Rumi and Hafiz in the spiritual resonance of his poetry. I have never, until today when I received the S.O.F newsletter, read anything written by O'Donohue, and I have been transformed by this single exposure.

Your work is vital.
Thank you.
-Lulu Steinberg

I am one of those who have been searching for a long time for my God. Left the Catholic faith at 18 and been on a search ever since. Ten years ago I found " A Course In Miracles." It wasn't until the past year, however, that I applied myself to the 365 day workbook and now am halfway through that.

This morning because of John O'Donohue it all finally crystallized for me. I wept for portions of the show because finally, finally it all started to make sense. It has been a long journey these past 40 years but I now believe that I do know God --Can now be comfortable that indeed--God is simply--Self--Not body--Not mind--Self.

It's been a long road. I am glad I took it----

John O'Donahue's reflections on beauty and landscape - inner and outer - this is where we intersect the divine. Thank you! I will read more of O'Donahue's writing.

It helped me to remember the spirit.

Thank you.

It helped to defuse some horrible anger and fear.

Krista Tippet is wonderful. But my goodness John O' Donohue is a
life saver.

How strange he died so young in his sleep. What a beautiful voice
and words he is responsible for.

Thank you again.

The program with John O'Donohue was especially inspiring since I have embarked on a journey toward love and wholeness. Being a poet myself,
and listening to "speaking of faith" has taken me deeper into myself and others. Listening to how others view faith and love enables me to have a more open and positive attitude toward my family and to the wider world. Thank you.

Thank you SoF for having John Odonahue on your show. For the past couple of years I have been in a search for my higher power and my purpose in this life.

After listening to this program I was enlightened and had my faith strenghthened to a much higher level. One of the reasons is something Mr. Odonahue said about inner strength. He reflected on a place deep inside every one of us where no outside forces can penetrate. He said that this part of us has never been wounded with any of lifes problems. I think he said that this is where our higher power lives within us.

I am sure that I am not remembering exactly how Mr. Odonahue put it but that is the way my heart took it. It has given me a new place within that I can draw strenght from.

Another wonderful thing I loved was his bringing together nature with his faith. I have always been one who can see the beauty in almost any landscape.

I have also recently been on a spiritual quest to find what my purpose is while I am here in this time. Right now I am in sales and for many many years I have been told that I have a way with people and a deep understanding of how people are feeling. Moreover I have been told that I have a way of comforting and service that is above and beyond. Sounds a bit like I am bragging on myself, I am only tring to say that maybe they are right and my purpose is to help people with this gift of understanding.

I am married with three children. My wife supports what is happening inside me but frankly is a bit apprehensive to me making any sudden career choices. So we (my wife and I) are trying very hard to become debt free in the next couple of years so that my choices in service might not be a burden on my family.

Well again thank you for putting Mr. John Odonahue into my life. I believe nothing is a coincedence.

Slowly searching,

Chi migwetch, thank you! What a wonderful discussion of language and meaning. I am a Native woman, mother, wife, and storyteller. I have long pondered the question of the connection between culture and language. How do they influence and inform each other? People who have lived for thousands of years in an arid, desert climate will by default develop language with completely different references, nuances, stories, and expressions of spirituality than those who live in an arctic or woodlands region. I believe that our stories are a kind of living energy that yearn to be told, and they wait for us to come along; we who will give them voice. What happens to those stories when they cannot be told in the language in which they were created? What is lost 'in translation'? Our stories, songs, and prayers contain deeply significant teachings that are subtly layered so that they unfold in accordance with each listener's path, experience, and desire to understand. So often, I have told a story-one that I have told many times-and I am struck with that "aha" moment; some previously unrecognized lesson is illuminated for me. I do programs for a wide variety of audiences, and it has been such a challenge to try to retain the essence of the stories while making them acceptable to audiences that are primarily non-Native. Traditional stories often involve scatological humor, death, sexuality...all of which are unacceptable in mainstream (non-Native) school programs, libraries, scout troops, etc. Krista speculated as to whether or not the loss of languages is a natural process and part of progress, technology, and a more unified world. I believe that the loss of languages is a consequence of cultural imperialism. Forbidding the use of native language is an effective means of wiping out indigenous culture. There is a deeper subtext to this process. Words are powerful and ancient, and they contain the knowledge and wisdom of a people. If you take away my language, in a way you take away my history, my foundation, my connection with my ancestors, my deepest identity.

I am a long time listener, and I have to say that I really, really enjoyed listening to, and using the amazing messages and themes contained within your program on Inner Beauty very recently.

I am involved in the Lutheran Kairos prison ministry in Southern California, where we conduct at our own cost what is effectively a three day Cursillo retreat for residents who seem ready to commit to changing their lives, and engaging in a program of self renewal and spiritual revival. In this program, groups of 35 Christian male volunteers from all denominations, work together with residents within the prison facilities to help them develop and achieve a new vision of their future lives, and see their past life more clearly.

I used the 'threshold' concept that was articulated in the interview, that of coming to and gradually moving into a new consciousness of the ever-present, unwounded self, as the theme of one of the fifteen talks and four meditations that are offered to the residents.

I just wanted to say an enormous "Thank you" to you all for the program, and to let you know how wonderfully useful and valuable your conversations with all of these diverse spiritual people can be. And in fact are. Your teams work on these programs is "invaluable" to me, and in my work with prison residents, has helped to save and profoundly change some lives, many of whom have now committed to dedicating part of their futures to being active in the future, helping other younger offenders to stay out of trouble when they get out
As a group of men after the Kairos weekend, we go back into each prison several times over the next year to re-affirm our commitment to the residents and give them an on-going and stable confidence in the sincerity of our mission and validity of their own efforts to change.
Thankyou, many times over
Geoff COrnish


I listen to it over and over again on my Ipod. I feel that it really helps me to feel peaceful. I listen over and over to other shows of yours but this one is amazing. Thank you for being there. You are the very best the media has to offer.
I learn something new from each new show and person you introduce to us out there in the land. I feel like it is spiritual time when I relax on the train and put this one show on espcially!
I'm 66, I work full-time as manager of a mental health program/volunteer project.
Will write more another time.
Fond regards to all staff, Sarah Nathan

-------------- keep up the good work.

I feel like it was years ago when I was on a car trip with my parents and we stumbled upon an interview with John O'Donoghue. My father was intrigued, I was captivated and my mother was suspicious. She said "Irish accents are so wonderful that they could sell anything and it sounded like poetry" so her heart was not set alight as mine was, listening to talk of the invisible mysteries. Today I was in a bookshop and though looking for another title I picked up Eternal Echos. Reading it and the back of Anam Cara I had the strong sense that this was the man I had heard speak years before. I sought out a recording so I could check this feeling I had and listened to your program Krista. Certainly it was him and I loved listening to you both. Such thoughtfulness, such beauty in the interview! Such wonderful use of words and descriptions of delicate and elusive ideas. Thank you. This makes my heart sing and weep with the knowledge of what is real and what is illusion.

For me, God is in the ocean that surrounds us all. As a child, being raised on an island, it transported me, literally and figuratively. I swam in its warm waves as early as I could walk. My home floated on it, for a time, and it provided my family's income. My father, the sailor, taught me to understand its tides and depths. I learned how to stay afloat on its surface and what lived in its depths below. He was married to it, somehow, and when his union with my mother ended, it was to the ocean that he returned to live, testament perhaps to his first true love. As I grew older, and moved from it, the mere picture of it reminded me of its omnipresence and endurance. I returned to it whenever I could, standing on its edge, eyes closed, recharging my soul with its smell and sound. I took my children to it, bathed them in its salty brine, teaching them to trust, love and respect it. We spent hours watching it froth with fury one day only to be crystalline calm the next. Ultimately, it claimed my father for its own, pulling him to its depths. It made sense somehow that he would become one with the sea, embraced eternally by her strength and beauty. I was not angry with it, because he loved the sea and so I released him to her care. When I stand on the shore now, it is with a deeper sense of understanding about the ebb and flow of the divine.

I have to say just listening to John O'Donohue's story I was touch by
his connectiveness that I have felt many times with in
my life but have not always found a like avenue to explore
it even more. I will have to get his book Anam Cara and
see where it takes me.

When I first encountered John O'Donohue's Anam Ċara I had no name to give it and stumbled along until I discovered "Paraclete" which is Greek and literally means "called to one's side". But it has also come to mean "comforter", "other counselor", "advocate", etc.

God is revealed every night when I look into the limitless expanse of starry sky above me. Each day when I look into the soulful eyes of my fifth grade students I see God. When my faithful dog rests his head upon my knee, I feel God's heartbeat. My life is enriched with the beauty of music, nature, and human creativity. I live in beauty every day and feel blessed to be able to appreciate it.

To have beauty elevated beyond glamour, as this poet has expressed, was exhilarating to me. Hearing his much more authentic, comprehensive understanding of beauty and the importance of it in our daily lives gives me great hope for a more truly civilized world. Nothing makes me feel the presence of the Divine (?God) more fully than the beauty of the elements ~ wind, rain, sunshine, snow. Feeling my breath, seeing laughter, hearing compassionate connections between people, the soulful depth in the eyes of animals ~ all these beautiful "scenes" render me awestruck with the wonder of the Divine:) !

With another birthday approaching in a few days, 51 to be exact, I am reminded of the many mountains I have been around to gain the wisdom of God's unconditional love. We as humans are often so stubborn and fall into selfish desires. Beieving "our way" will bring us a favoured outcome. It is this attitude that creates a division in our soul. Not of God from us, but rather us from God.
They say wisdom comes with age, but I believe wisdom comes from experience. If it weren't for these mountains I wouldn't have been on my knees praying for guidance and strength. The challenges God has allowed in my life have not only kept me close to Him, but dependent on prayer.
I choose to take this uncondtional love into my lifes calling as a bodyworker. For 23 years I have been touching lives and creating change one body at a time. I receive more than I could ever give and THAT continues to reveal to me the beauty of divine love.
I still fall on my knees, but it is there that I feel the tallest. Age is relative. I am still a child in God's eyes with a few more mountains to climb. The beauty is that I am no longer afraid to admit I need help. Wisdom...or experience?

I LOVED Krista Tippett's interview of John O'Donohue. It touched my heart in so many ways and inspired me to learn all I can about him. Thank you so much for bringing his deep wisdom to life for me.

With deep love, respect and gratitude,
Angela mandato

Thank you VERY much for today's show, "The Inner Landscape of Beauty." I've been a fan of Ms. Tippett and her work for several years now, but have not heard a show for a number of months, maybe years, and in fact, listen to public radio much less frequently than I have in the past, more often listening to recorded books on my long commute. But, as fate would have it(?), I just happened to turn on WBEZ (Chicago) this morning, on my way to work, and after catching 15 minutes of BBC news, was so, so fortunate to hear Ms. Tippett's interview with John O'Donohue. I'd never been aware of Mr. Donohue, but his work, his insights, his answers to her terrific questions were truly remarkable, coming to me at a time when I'm wondering about my role and place in life, aka middle age. His poems, her questions, his thoughts, the music, the!! It was EXACTLY what I needed to hear, a wonderful inspiration, a reminder of what life is, why I'm hear, and where to re-focus my energies.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. You've won back an ardent supporter, and now, subscriber.

This Sunday 28nov2010 right after thanksgiving day sunday. I heard part of Mr. Donohue's talk with the host. This is so much resonant with what I had reflected during this past year. Although my life is less in terms of dollar value since the change of the econonmy but I felt much richer and happier. In fact to have time to spend a holiday on the ground instead airport somewhere to find the right country currency for a payphone to call home; listen radio or reflect; and to have time to know the blessing I have. And most of all to experience and actually live to appreciate every moment and not to take anything for granted is best thing that ever happened to me in my life. Many thanks to you for the program. Thank you for today's talk. Sincerely, Rebecca guo

Hello, I would like to share how moved I was at this mornings program featuring the late poet John O'Donohue. I am not sure where to begin. Several of your recent shows have resonated with me. I am currently a PhD Student in Expressive Therapies at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I will be researching the use of mandala as a reflective, visual narrative with adolescents who have a difficult time managing the complicated, emotional elements in life that throw them off balance. I would like to cite excerpts from the transcripts of this interview in a paper I am writing on creativity and development. I have been struggling with this topic because I often feel we try so hard to quantify and explain things in the West. We try so hard to put them in boxes so the explanation is neat and tidy. I work with children and adolescents who have acute psychiatric needs. As I listened to Mr. O'Donohue's comments of urban life and its bleakne ss, its lack of beauty, I came to wonder about this. I have several children who are truly able to find beauty and balance in their urban worlds. I have other who cannot and suffer in their world, often becoming victims because well, I am not sure why. I am curious about this and hope to explore this in the future. The essay I am writing will challenge the analysis of creativity, and ask why we cannot accept the mystery that is creativity in art, music, writing and craft. Are we uncomfortable with this? Ah I am so inspired by this podcast, thank you for making the transcript available so that i may ponder it further. I will credit On Being, Ms. Tippet and Mr. O'Donohue in the unpublished essay for my course work in accordance to APA guidelines, if that is okay. Thank you.

I found the Anam Cara discussion interesting.
Long before the concept of Anam Cara there was" Spiorad an Leanabh ata isteach"
Translated: the Spirit of the Child within, I.e. before we became the slave of Time.

Reference: go to
click on Child of the Ice
click on Look for short preview.

Beannacht De leat,
Tadhg Mac Carthaigh

I look for Beauty in the people around me, I smell The Presence in the fresh scent of pine, I delight in the taste of warm soup, shared; I see God in relationships between individuals, within the power and delicacy of Nature, in brilliant and subtle colors, in music heard and delivered. My religion is one of Beauty, and I seek it daily....

I am a middle aged white southerner from North Carolina and my friend is a decade younger native Beijing woman working on her dissertation in Los Angeles, California. Five years ago, we traveled together for our work, ate all our meals together and worked together for six months. We became close friends. So three years later when she mourned the loss of her father and then two years after that, she discovered she was three months pregnant while writing her dissertation, I could only think one thing: "Go to her". It made absolutely no sense. I live on the other side of the country and we are so different, but all I could do was make it so. I rearranged my work and it was much easier than I thought it would be. My husband was so supportive and then finally when the time came four months later to make arrangements, I tried to wriggle out of it by asking her if she really needed me? Her reply was an adamant YES! So I arrived November 26 at 10 PM supposedly a month before the baby was due to help complete her "nesting phase" and to attend birthing classes, when she awoke me on Sunday morning, just 30 hours after my arrival and still jet lagged, with "I think my water broke".

First off, I have never given birth and just had a hysterectomy in June. I thought my life would end without me catching a glimpse of the miracle of birth. "Push" will never mean the same thing to me! I was so privileged to be in the inner sanctum of that delivery room, I am moved beyond these words.

One week later as I listen to downloaded podcasts back in the real world, I am again pulled back to the miracle of life after changing diapers and cooking and cleaning non stop for a new mommy and baby for a week. Tensions can run high which is understandable, but we talk and share hopes and fears and tears. Then this morning, John O'Donohue's interview rang in my ear and I found this on the website: "I have spent time since pondering a wonderful statement he made, so true for me right now, that beauty isn’t all about “nice, loveliness like” but a “kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life.”

God as beauty is alive and well in LA today. Thank you God.

Cheers to love, gratitude and forgiveness!
Vivian Fulk

This Podcast was about a man named John O'Donohue who was formally a Catholic Priest for 19 years and by the sounds of things according to this podcast, he is now a Buddhist and a philosopher. He is also a poet and an author of a book called Anam Cara, which is Gaelic for "soul friend." Throughout this podcast, I did notice that this man believes in the Greek trait of the soul. This man believes that we are in the soul rather than the soul is in us. He says we can reach our soul through prayer, spirituality and love. These three things help us visit that sanctuary.
From what I can decipher from this podcast is that this guy is kind of about how we should just seek our own inner-vision about things because that is what this guy was talking about, his own ideas on life. Like one opinion he had was that he doesn’t believe we are less capable of love and relationships compared to a hundred years ago. The idea behind this is that he says we desperately hang on to things that make us miserable. On the other hand he says children today go through a lot more question zones on just religion in general compared to years ago. This kind of goes against Kierkegaard's idea that we are all equally at a disadvantage of seeking Jesus and God, but maybe John is talking about the grand scheme of things as in religion as a whole. He also talks about spiritual guidance can help us unlock the invisible world which that idea right there proves that this man is all about seeking your inner-vision as in seeking for the truth. But you can also say that everybody basically seeks their own inner-vision. After all the man says that we are all artist. He says this because we are all ex babies that can dream and those we have a very imaginative mind. The reason why we probably do this is because of the statement he says in his book that we probably can all relate to, "It's strange to be here, the mystery never leaves you."

I listened to this interview while i ran by our little lake decatur today, in the stark, clear 20 degrees of a central illinois morning. my surroundings and the interview really hit just the right note, a true harmonic. I consider myself to be a Buddhist Witch (neopagan, wiccan whatever name one chooses). I'd never heard of Mr. O Donahue before this listening, but his sensibilities, struck me as things i've thought of before. From a young age, i recall being mesmerized by the local wilderness near our house- spending hours in the forest preserves in our far northwest chicago suburb.

From a Buddhist persepctive there is no 'God' or "prime mover,' but i do have, from the Tibetan Buddhist teachings i practice, a sense of the Divine; something that is beyond us, yet part of us and yet we are a part of it. This is what i see as the inner beauty and the beauty manifest in our world, about which Mr O Donahue was speaking. And of course, as a modern Witch or 'Wiccan,' i see, feel and experience the magick of the divine around us daily.... it all flows together for me, whether i'm running at the lake, working in my office or being with my family

Blessed Be

Dear Ms. Tippett, First - thanks for many an enlightening and thoughtful program. Now, I was just referred to your site by the Episcopal Church Publishing site while looking at Advent stuff - specifically your John O'Donohue interview, et al. I may have to spend the whole day here -- AND THAT MUSIC! So - my next April birthday being my 65th, it's high time this retired Episcopal priest hied himself off to Ireland and a retreat centre somewhere wherein to sit and absorb Celtic Spirituality. Perhaps you have some suggestions, please - or some contact suggestions? Thank you very much and seasonal blessings to you and yours, Courtney Shucker

Before listening to this Being broadcast, I had never heard of John O’Donohue or read any of his poetry or philosophy. I had also never thought of his idea which now, having been exposed to it, seems so simple and natural to me. The notion that beauty is an aspect of God, and an essential one at that, makes so much sense to me when considered in the context of my own life. Beauty found in nature is especially significant both in O’Dononhue’s explanations and my personal interpretation. Although I have never been blessed with the opportunity to visit Ireland and experience the landscape, I understand from the natural beauty that I have experienced that it is really nothing other than an expression of God. I believe this true not only of landscape but of plant and animal life, lakes and rivers, and even of humans in a way. The part of this broadcast which stood out to me the most was the question that Krista Tippett asked of O’Donohue about people who do not have the type of beauty that he described “at hand.” John’s explanation was powerful to say the least, that urban landscapes and inner city surroundings “doubly impoverish” the poor. I could not agree more with Tippett’s desire to “transport” people who have never seen the true beauty of nature, so that they can see and understand how much more there is to life and God than what they see on a daily basis. I believe that, as a person living in an aesthetically undesirable setting, taking a break from the monotony of daily life to go out and experience the outside world even for a short time can truly have healing and revitalizing results. I can relate O’Donohue’s descriptions of the Irish countryside with my own experience of the clear skies and clean waters of Northern Minnesota and the beautiful shores of Lake Superior. Having been able to see even this amount of beauty in nature has truly been a blessing, and now having heard the incredible insight of the late John O’Donohue, I can appreciate this in a way that I never could have imagined before.

Thanks for the program on John Donohue. I particularly appreciated the discussion of the Greek word, "kaleo." In my studies, I discovered the connection between "kaleo" and the English word "holy." I expected John to go on to this connection, which would have fit with his words about "calling." He may do this in the extended interview, which I have not yet heard.

I have listened to Krista's interview with John ODonohue every morning since it first aired and every morning I hear yet another tidbit of wisdom which moves me to some insight or perspective of my world that I hadn't ever considered.

I especially appreciated ODonohue's comments on landscape and how beautiful landscape brings us to a deeper meaning in and of our lives. I spent 25 years living in the cold and emotionally barren landscape of New Hampshire. Then I moved to a cottage by the beach here in South Florida. Walking the beach every day has profoundly changed my life on many different levels. This is, in part, because the beach is my sacred place. We each have our sacred places where our hearts grow full and our souls rejoice.

Thanks Krista for your excellent show. I listen every week.

Jackson Dunes
Pug At The Beach
Delray Beach, Florida

One bright autumn day in 2009 I walked my dog through the hardwood forest behind my home and beyond through treed neighborhoods, drinking in the splendid colors on display. As i passed particularly remarkable trees I slowed my walk and remarked to myself, "Oh, it's so beautiful!" and "Ah, so beautiful." After many such comments, a response welled up within me, "Yes, my child, all for you!" My first reactions were fear of this presence within my mind, nakedness, shock! Gradually, i understood this to be an expression of divine love back to me - beauty pierced the fog of my existence and brought me in contact with God. The very next day I saw a stunning sunset and recognized it as a wink from God. These experiences proved to me God's manifestation through beauty. I feel blessed!

i was driving back to baton rouge from my sister's ranch in texas when i turned on the radio - which i never do anymore. i hit "scan" and i heard Krista's voice. i pushed "scan" again and did the full circle - in case i'm missing something else scan, which again led me back to Krista's voice. and John O'Donohue's voice - like a lullaby. and i listened. as i drove. i had never heard of "speaking of faith" or John O'Donohue so i was really soaking the whole program up, hanging on to every word, not wanting this to end, EVER. and i listened. and, in between, in the breaths, i reflected on my present life... being in recovery re seeking the spiritual connection with my higher power and having a relationship with a man who i love very much but who is unhealthy. and i thought about the photo he had recently sent to me via email - an enormous and gorgeous, serene sea turtle swimming along in a blue ocean. turtle = home. and then John said, "spirituality is the art of homecoming" and i smiled and gave a little prayer of thanks to the universe, to the people (like Krista) who follow dreams, to the men like John who bless our hearts. THANK YOU! OM!

What is spoken of as God by some, is beyond words for others. For me, a soaring hawk can be the voice of Our Creator. Beauty is not always easy to find... esp. in our war torn times. However, it is in the hardest of times that I stretch to find signs of The Creators gifts. And when I truly open myself to the possibilities, I find God is alive in a fist full of sand. A droplet of water on a blade of grass in a pristine alpine meadow, or an industrial vacant lot. It is in the act of asking to find beauty that I have found the Voice of Creation.

I discovered John O'Donohue after stumbling across a PBS special about him a few St. Patrick's Days ago. I began to look for more info on him and found The Inner Landscape of Beauty episode here - I've listened to both the edited and unedited versions a few times each now, as the topics and discussion have a wonderful flow that asks to be re-heard.

I find John O'Donohue's meditations and blessings to be very grounding and thought provoking, especially in his own voice. My only wish is that I discovered works earlier.

I've even named my genealogy blog Currach, with the words of his Beannacht in mind.

Dear Krista;
I have been a long time listener. Seasonal requirements of my employment require me to work on Sunday during winter, so I regard this show as my time for church during those dark months in particular. While many of your shows have moved me and given me much to contemplate, this show and this conversation moved me to tears of thankfulness,complex emotions and resonated with something very deep and sleeping in my soul. Thank you for such a wonderful time of thought, feeling and reflection. At the end, I looked to the heavens and said an "I love you" to those I have loved and lost in a way I have never done before, and as a sixty year old man, that is remarkable all by itself. I am very thankful that having missed the original broadcast, I had the good fortune to be where I was when this show aired a second time. Thank you for attempting to bring the light of our inner being always to the surface.

I wrote the following after listening to your interview w/ John O'Donohue this morning. An amazing blessing! Thank you

Thank you John!

I reflect on beauty..
on leadership...
on life..
in the workplace..
in the market
IN THE ...
Beginning to put it all together,
leaving it all open..
cultivating love,
cultivating awareness,
cultivating wisdom...
the art of being in the presence
walking in it..
being absorbed.
leaving meaning
...while finding meaning.
mdg 1/29/2012

This was so incredibly moving. There's so much to take from this conversation, and I think I need to listen at least one more time to take from all that I could. There are two things I want to share that caught my attention in this listening.

The term "Anam Ċara" was a complete gift. In the tradition of Judaism that I practice, we have concept called a "chevruta," which is a spiritual partner. Sometimes a particular person is your chevruta for only a moment, and sometimes for life. I've wanted to bring this practice into my pantheistic spiritual community, Becoming, but the specificity of the Hebrew word was a barrier. They are very open to respectful incorporation of tools and techniques from different traditions -- but for some reason I decided that a "chevruta" was something that should not be borrowed into non-Jewish tradition. Now I have the word, Anam Cara, and it explains so closely the same idea. I am thrilled to bring the practice of "chevruta" into the Becoming community packaged in a wrapper that better fits the ethos of the community!

Somewhere in the interview, there was also a discussion of something from Meister Eckhart explaining that G!d/dess is always becoming and unbecoming. That too, was highly resonant with my work with the Becoming community.

Honestly, I was so moved that I posted this to my Facebook community for Peeling a Pomegranate (the umbrella under which I do most of my spiritual work and teaching), and asked them to listen and engage in a conversation around the core concepts.

I had the opportunity to listen to him read the poem - "Beannacht".
This poem - "Beannacht" was shared with me by a dear colleague of mine who knows my story - challenged life full of carrying much, weariness, and deep sadness. Every time I read this poem (it hangs next to my computer), I feel this hope rise within, strength from on High, an encouragement that I cannot describe. I feel enveloped by and with Grace and Love; and I am able to go on.

As the granddaughter of Irish immigrants, I've long loved the prose and poetry of John O'Donohue, and felt as if his placing of words, like the careful stacking of ancient stones in the walls his father built, were so familiar because of some shared Celtic DNA. But hearing his voice during Krista's interview was almost more than I could bear. It felt like home. It sounded like the echoes of a sea I've never tasted, but long for. Thank you Krista. Your questions were lovely, your gentle probing perfect for a conversation with this deeply spiritual visionary thinker. I have listened to your interview (broadcast and un-cut) many times now and have visited each link, music selection, and back story...I feel so blessed by this program. Although I never miss On Being (or the formerly SoF), and each one is inspiring, this program was deeply sacred for me. Thank you.

I first heard your interview with John O'D a few years (?) ago while going through a tough transition. His soothing words helped me to look out with eyes wide open and see immense beauty everywhere. I was inspired to write poetry and have sent his "Beannacht" poem paired with meaningful imagery to friends in need. He became my best friend that day, and his was the beauty that I have kept in my pocket. I have listened to his "Beauty" innumerable times and will never tire of this interview. Thank you for this and all that you do.

"Draw alongside the silence of stone
until its calmness can claim you...”
― John O'Donohue

They hover
over the sea
like ancient godmothers -
each stone,
each pebble,
each grain of sand,
find its
way home
to their

i wake from
a dream,
arms still wrapped around
a looming granite knee,
mist shrouded shoulders,
my heart
ebbing and
in and out,
bouncing like a small
child against the hip of
someone safe and
touching, touching,
touching to be
just to be sure

in my dreams,
they are mine

the cliffs
of moher

their undulating
curves hugging the edge of
a northern sea,
giving shape to the
face of
something beautiful,
fluid, mercurial, and as
tempermental as the colors
of slate, and
storm, and a blue without
a name,
only a sound...

it is the sound
of the primeval,
the weeping of the sea,
the keening of
a people
whose dreams are
woven in a
poet's words...

stacked like the granite stone walls
which sing of their
hope for boundaries that
hold them near...

for hearth and
home and the
right to
something deeper
than a name...

a granite
place of shale
and sandstone where
ancient mothers
dig their toes into
the core of
the earth
and the
sound of their
drop like
lullabies upon
the cliffs of

a place of
still water
center of
their souls

a place
where children with
eyes the color
of deep water
their cousins
sleep against
of knowing
they are

to the cliffs
of Moher

"you have traveled too fast
over false ground;
now your soul has come
to take you back...'”
― John O'Donohue

Kate Christie Mullane

Listening to Krista and Joh talk and explore and share on spirituality, aesthetics, music and so much more is a post-graduate course and a celebration of the mind all at the same time. I had heard the produced version of the show back when it was first broadcast, and today I listened to the unedited interview, which had it's own essential cadence and pace. John O'Donahue has become a passion and a favorite for me. And Krista is this senior citizen's mentor and guide and model of what a life of the mind can be. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I am a Quaker, a religion with one simple idea - that there is that of God in everyone. I am an artist. I experience the God that I seek in everyone as their inner beauty. I am a teacher, so I create a safe space for people's unique beauty, for the Creator within them, to be expressed. I have been doing this for 30 years with 2 year-olds to 90-year olds, in inner cities and rural countrysides. Everyone I've worked with has created unique, soul-filled images. In 2011, I made a mural called "We Must Care for the Earth" with special needs college students at Grant Grover School of the College of Marin in Kentfield, California. I asked the young people what they loved and cared about the most and incorporated their ideas into an 8' x 12' painting that we created together. Some of these young people will never walk or talk. To be with them is to be in the heart of the mystery of God's creation. Why are some of us able to be Olympic athletes and others wheelchair bound for a lifetime? What does it mean to be human? In co-creating with these young people, we made an image that was bigger than all of us, reflecting their inner beauty. We made a movie of the project, filmed by the students. One autistic boy loved the Beatles and wanted "Here Comes the Sun" as the soundtrack. EMI gave us permission to use the song. I hope you experience God as beauty when you watch it.

As I had a glorious walk in the desert, I listened to this conversation with John O'Donohue. As I listened, I was reminded, uplifted, inspired and transformed. My heart opened. My experience is hard to describe as it transcended words. I am very grateful for this conversation and appreciate the gifts that Krista brings to the world.

I have listened to this interview many times and am drawn to it especially when I miss my homeland! It is powerful,moving and transforms you, one of the most powerful elements of it for me was the discussion of "ainm chara" soul whom you can share the most innermost self.

Is beauty not in the eye of the beholder? I think it is. I agree that the West coast of Ireland and Scotland is my style of beauty. What about those who love the look and feel of steel and concrete in the city? Could they not find surreal comfort there; Just a thought. I think of yesterday morning; there was fog the night before and the morning brought this beautiful frost to the trees. My drive this morning was amazing. I would relate the feelings I felt and the calmness I had on my drive to work and the 7 days that the lady Mr. O’Donohue talked about, spent to recover her stress and physical troubles she was having. I felt refreshed, at ease, and ready to take on the world.

It will be interesting to read John O'Donohue’s book. He seems to have an open idea for many religious beliefs. He mentions Christianity and Buddhism and what he likes about them. I kind of felt that he grew up with one set of beliefs, had them for many years, and then had his eyes opened to other possibilities and what else the world and philosophy had to offer him.

Is beauty not in the eye of the beholder? I think it is. I agree that the West coast of Ireland and Scotland is my style of beauty. What about those who love the look and feel of steel and concrete in the city? Could they not find surreal comfort there; Just a thought. I think of yesterday morning; there was fog the night before and the morning brought this beautiful frost to the trees. My drive this morning was amazing. I would relate the feelings I felt and the calmness I had on my drive to work and the 7 days that the lady Mr. O’Donohue talked about, spent to recover her stress and physical troubles she was having. I felt refreshed, at ease, and ready to take on the world.

It will be interesting to read John O'Donohue’s book. He seems to have an open idea for many religious beliefs. He mentions Christianity and Buddhism and what he likes about them. I kind of felt that he grew up with one set of beliefs, had them for many years, and then had his eyes opened to other possibilities and what else the world and philosophy had to offer him.

One bright autumn day in 2009 I walked my dog through the hardwood forest behind my home and beyond through treed neighborhoods, drinking in the splendid colors on display. As i passed particularly remarkable trees I slowed my walk and remarked to myself, "Oh, it's so beautiful!" and "Ah, so beautiful." After many such comments, a response welled up within me, "Yes, my child, all for you!" My first reactions were fear of this presence within my mind, nakedness, shock! Gradually, i understood this to be an expression of divine love back to me - beauty pierced the fog of my existence and brought me in contact with God. The very next day I saw a stunning sunset and recognized it as a wink from God. These experiences proved to me God's manifestation through beauty. I feel blessed!


Voices on the Radio

O'Donohue was a poet and philosopher who wrote several books, including Anam Ċara and Conamara Blues. He died on January 4, 2008.

Production Credits

Host/Producer: Krista Tippett

Senior Editor: Trent Gilliss

Consulting Producer: Kate Moos

Associate Producer: Nancy Rosenbaum

Associate Producer: Shubha Bala

Technical Director/Producer: Chris Heagle

Associate Producer: Susan Leem