He had me at "a rounded substantial becoming."

John O’Donohue says that God is beauty. Not the beauty you see splashed across the pages of a glamour magazine, but beauty “as a rounded substantial becoming, as an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace and elegance, a deeper sense of depth, and also a kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life.” My God, who speaks like that? He had me at “a rounded substantial becoming.” I was listening to John in one of his last interviews with Krista Tippett before he died in 2008. I had to pause the conversation several times, listen deeply, before I was able to soak up his words like a dry sponge. He is magnetizing and Tippett stays right with him, directing, pushing, asking for more. 

Krista Tippett says, “O’Donohue understands beauty as a human calling and a defining aspect of God.” He tries to help us understand the working of our invisible world, those hidden aspects of self, some of which we will never fully understand. He says poetry, drama, dance, music, and art are forms that try to make the invisible concrete.  I so agree. I am thankful for the people who dig deep within themselves and are able to reveal a universal aspect of the world through art. I’ve been brought to tears from a poignant acappella, I’ve seen an entire room silenced by a good poem, and I think dance can be a mime of the soul. 

He said, “music is what language would be if it could.” I also love the emphasis he puts on landscape, he is aware that our surroundings have a huge influence on our inner selves, and he believes it is how we stay in rhythm with the universe. He said we could learn a lot if we walked outside in the morning and realized the environment is alive. Keep an image of nature tucked away in the mind like a picture of a loved one. Below is the sun rising over Clearlake, this is the image I have stored away. I bring it out when I need  a refreshing calm.

He says we are strangers to ourselves and collapsing under the burden of stress. He encourages us to see the beauty in our friendships. Our most intimate relationships are truly an aspect of the divine, these are the people who love us deeply, who remind us of our goodness, and help us to become our best self. We should surround ourselves with those who hold us dear. I think we awaken the best or worst in each other through the fruition of our inner self, this is our well, and this is all we have to offer. It is so simple. 

Our fast moving culture doesn’t allow us the space to fully unfold, to develop important friendships, and we’ve replaced our ability for honest conversation with text messages and email. I have a small dinner party planned for tomorrow night and I can’t wait to tell each of you how important you are to me. He reminds us that it is not until we are on the verge losing someone that we understand their deep relevance. The blatant truth changes us and pushes us towards a more authentic self. I am grateful Tippett was able to immortalize O’Donohue’s words in this powerful interview. 

I am on fire with this man’s wisdom. O’Donohue speaks of God like Cruise to Zellweger, “You complete me.” He’s written several books, a national bestseller called Anam Cara (which means soul friend), and a more recent work called Divine Beauty. He says, “The glory of god is the human person fully alive.” Hallelujah! I just put my order in with Amazon, let’s hope the drone can find me.

Link to full interview:
On Being with John O’Donohue and Krista Tippett

Haven’t had enough? Return to Living in the Gap for my latest posts. 

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