Krista's Journal: A Show of Remembrance

February 28, 2008

"It's strange to be here," John O'Donohue wrote. "The mystery never leaves you." And creating this program has been a lovely, if strange and mysterious, experience. O'Donohue was an Irish poet and philosopher beloved for his books, including Anam Cara — Gaelic for "soul friend" — and for his insistence on beauty as a human calling and a defining aspect of God. I sat down with him in the fall for a wide-ranging, two-hour conversation. Then before it could go to air, he died in his sleep, suddenly and apparently naturally and peacefully, at the age of 52. And so this hour of conversation has become a remembrance of him. We're putting his lovely, lively, exuberant voice out there in the world, though he is no longer in it. And he would surely see this as a serendipitous continuation of his life's work — of bringing ancient Celtic wisdom to modern confusions and longings. We ended the show with his reading of "Beannacht," a poem of blessing he wrote for his mother upon the death of his father. A number of listeners who read and loved John O'Donohue's work have written to us as we began to post this and other poems he read to me last fall:

And when your eyes freeze behind the gray window and the ghost of loss gets in to you, may a flock of colors, indigo, red, green and azure blue come to awaken in you a meadow of delight.

And our senior producer Mitch Hanley posted a pair of informative blog entries about our research into the beautiful, essential music for this show — including the style of Gaelic singing called sean-nos and the helpful contributions of an Irish listener from Belfast. "Music," John O'Donohue said to me, "is what language would love to be if it could."

Recommended Reading

Image of To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings
Author: John O'Donohue
Publisher: Doubleday (2008)
Binding: Hardcover, 240 pages

John O'Donohue's delightful last book was published posthumously in 2008.

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.