John O’Donohue & Yearning to Belong

Posted by Censor Librorum on May 22, 2008 | Categories: Arts & Letters

John O’Donohue was an Irish poet, author and Catholic scholar who lived in the solitude of a cottage in the west of Ireland and spoke Gaelic as his daily language. His acclaimed writings reveal an original thinker rooted in a blend of Irish heritage, German philosophy, western theology, and an intimate relationship with the ancient, luminous landscape of his home.johnodonohuelrg1.JPG

He spoke of mystery, wildness, our human yearning for “home,” and our sense of exile from the denuded, soulless, and empty landscapes of our time. He often returned to the scouring experience of loss, which he believed paradoxically opened us ┬áto growth.

For 19 years he served as a parish priest in the west of Ireland, but always felt the urge to write, as well as a mounting tension between Irish Catholicism’s traditional stance and his own liberal position. In a radio interview long after leaving the priesthood, he spoke of ministering to people in the parish: “I was trying to refine their fingers…so that they could undo so much of the false netting crippling their own spirits.”

With degrees in philosophy and English literature, and a Ph.D. in philosophical theology from the University of Tubingen in Germany, O’Donohue was one of the most articulate voices of living Celtic Christianity and wisdom, and the beauty of Christian mysticism.

He is the author of two collections of poetry, Echoes of Memory and Conamara Blues; and several books, including the international bestsellers Anam Cara (Soul Friend) and Eternal Echoes: Exploring Our Yearning to Belong.

“This hunger to belong is the echo and reverberation of your invisible and eternal heritage. You are from somewhere else, where you were known, embraced and sheltered. This is also the secret root from which all longing grows. Something in you knows, perhaps remembers, that eternal belonging liberates longing into its surest and most potent creativity.”

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