I received ‘Walking in Wonder’ by John O’Donohue for my birthday. Krista Tippett proclaims in the foreword, ‘This book that you now hold in your hands is a treasure.’ and I concur. Reading this book felt like finding a fifty dollar bill in the pocket of an old coat; unexpected delight followed by a lucky feeling.
The book is split into 9 Chapters. Each chapter is filled with deep thought, quotes from John’s teachers and conrads, and poetry, delicious John O’Donohue poetry that is seasoned with wisdom like a salty Michelin star tenderloin. Let me share some of John’s inspired words from this work with you.
You can actually go back into yourself to great things that have happened to you and enjoy them and allow them to shelter and bless you again… it’s sad when people don’t use their good memories and revisit again and again the harvest of memory that is within them and live out of the riches of that harvest rather than the poverty of woundedness.John O’Donohue.
Instead of recalling past moments that were truly sublime, I am often sidetracked by disappointments. And so, after reading the above quote, I indulged myself. I closed my eyes, tilted my head back and remembered. And guess what happened? Joy and amazement right there in my living room. I found a pen and started writing my memories down. I could not help but say aloud to myself, ‘Wait, did that really happen?’ ‘I never dreamt that I would be there, doing that, with them.’
It is true and undeniably beautiful how good memories can make one feel like the richest person alive.
I think that we are infinitely greater than our minds and we are infinitely more than our images of ourselves.John O’Donohue
Greater than our minds? More than our images of ourselves? Of course we are. There is so much we do not know about everything, so how can it be that we know everything about ourselves. I have a feeling that the purpose of ageing is to uncover more of who we are, to do what we as youths were frightened to dream, to dare to go beyond the images of ourselves that keep us from being fully alive.
The duty of privilege is absolute integrity.John O’Donohue
I’ve got to tell you, this one stung. It is my understanding that John is trying to tell his reader that to be true is the responsibility of the free, to waste liberties on lies and falsities is a great error. Be it pretentious, light-weight living or the martyrdom of people pleasing, the privileged should have no higher goal than authentic living. John’s words encourage me to live deeply. May we not be wasteful by following misleading voices and misdirected versions of ourselves.
Without integrity there can be no true integration.John O’Donohue
Again John reminds his readers of the power and necessity of integrity. We can find no real connection without turning up for ourselves and as ourselves. He illustrates how false image stifles relationships and how deep connection with others is dependent on deep connection with ourselves.
When who we are and who we like to be are the same person, this is the point of great discovery; the place where we can unveil truth after truth after truth.
Time is always full of possibility. It would be a great gift that an old person could give themselves, The gift of recognising the possibilities that are in that time and use their imagination.John O’Donohue
John teachers ‘old age is a time of great freedom’. Not only do we gain more time for ourselves as we age but we also are freed from many of the concerns we may have had about our lives. The years teach us to let go.
I like this thought. Ageing isn’t a shame, it’s a glory. The later years are not a time to stop dreaming, but rather a time to revel in the possibilities that have not been available till now. May we rid our minds of the notion that old age is wonderless, profitless, or to be scorned.
If you want to read “Walking in wonder’ you can pick up a copy here. Also Krista Tippett hosts an excellent podcast called ‘on being’ her conversation with John can be found here.
Here’s to reading that replenishes.