I’m always awed by how whatever I need seems to be presented to me at just the right moment. That is, if my eyes are open to seeing it.
I have been fighting off the doldrums lately. I’m not sure why they’ve showed up but I am determined not to let them get a hold of me. I was feeling this way when I came across a poem written by an Irish poet named John O’Donohue. It’s called Beannacht which is a Gaelic word for Blessing. (The word “currach” which is used in the poem means canoe by the way.)
By John O’Donohue
On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.
His words captured my mood exactly and pulled me out of the murkiness immediately.
After doing some research into the poet himself I was further uplifted. At first saddened to discover that John O’Donohue had passed away last year at only 52. I discovered that he has written many best-selling books that I plan on devouring that will be full of little gems he wrote like “A person’s beauty is sophisticated and sacred and is far beyond image, appearance or personality.” Then I came across a video where he was speaking about the honour of being at someone’s deathbed. (He had been an ordained Catholic priest for part of his life.)
John spoke about asking an old man who was about to die, how he felt about his life now that he was about to leave it. He said a large smile came across the old man’s face as he replied “By Jeez, I knocked a hell of a squeeze out of it!” The old man died satisfied with how he had lived his life to the fullest.
John went on to describe seeing other people die and how “those deathbeds were a place of the most tragic, lonesome, forsaken regret. People who never lived the life that they desired but who postponed it and allowed themselves to be beset and contained by other people’s expectations and their own anxieties and uncertainties and always waiting for a future time to enter their lives and inhabit them and never did. And their sad lonely eyes looked back on a life that they had squandered.”
Whoa! I do not want to be one of those people on my deathbed. I will not waste another day feeling blasé but instead will go out and live my life with vigour! It reminds me of that saying I just love that goes something like this:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body; but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, beverage of choice in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, ‘Woo hoo, what a ride.’ ”
John O’Donohue understood that and I’ll bet that’s just what he felt in his own last moments. His words will inspire and uplift people forever.
And so may a slow wind work these words of love around you, an invisible cloak to mind your life.