439. Healthy Tension

“St. Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.” Our dissatisfaction could, therefore, be the admission and awakening of our longing for the eternal. Rather than being simply the edge of some personal emptiness, it could be the first step in the opening up of our eternal belonging…desire cultivates dissatisfaction in the heart with what is, and kindles an impatience for that which has not yet emerged…There should always be a healthy tension between the life we have settled for and the desires that still call us. In this sense our desires are the messengers of our unlived life, calling us to attention and action while we still have time here to explore fields where the treasure dwells!”

– John O’Donohue

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412. I Choose My Days

“I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.”
– Dawna Markova

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409. No Shortage

“There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading — that is a good life. A day that closely resembles every other day of the past ten or twenty years does not suggest itself as a good one. But who would not call Pasteur’s life a good one, or Thomas Mann’s?”

– Anne Dillard

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408. The Summit Is Not Forever

“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”

– Rene Daumal

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407. We Spend Our Lives

“We spend our lives, all of us, waiting for the great day, the great battle, or the deed of power. But that external consummation is not given to many: nor is it necessary. So long as our being is tensed, directed with passion, towards that which is the spirit of all things, then that spirit will emerge from our own hidden, nameless effort.” -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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387. Christmas Gift

Frequently, beauty is playful like dancing sunlight, it cannot be predicted, and in the most unlikely scene or situation can suddenly emerge. This spontaneity and playfulness often subverts our self-importance and throws our plans and intentions into disarray. Without intending it, we find ourselves coming alive with a sense of celebration and delight. The pedestrian sequence of a working day breaks, a new door opens and the heart recognizes the silent majesty of the ordinary. The things we never notice, like health, friends and love, emerge from their subdued presence and stand out in their true radiance as gifts we could never have earned or achieved. (John O’Donohue)

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306. Illumination

“Beauty is the illumination of your soul.”
― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

In a strange way this quote doesn’t relate directly to the threat of death and sorrow, but indirectly it has very much to do with it. It makes me feel, as I read it, that Soul exists – that I am Soul. Not just as a concept or metaphor, but something real, yet … undefinable.

And that is the power of all of John O’Donohue’s writ

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304. The Search

“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.”
― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

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303. Moving Spirit

Whenever something dark happens in my family or to myself I’ve had a lot of joy out of reading John O’Donohue; joy and strength and wisdom, all bundled. I got his first book – Anam Cara – as a gift from a man I had barely met, right in 2005 some weeks after I had been hospitalized with rampant anxiety. He sent it by snail mail, saying he felt I should have it. One of those small miracles. The book was my strength and you have to read it to understand why.

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