This is based on a podcast interview with John O’Donohue by Kristen Tippet – excerpted from Becoming Wise on the On Being Podcast - March 18, 2016
Imagine that you are hearing these words spoken in the lilt of John O’Donohue’s (philosopher, poet) Irish brogue.
“Beauty is that in the presence of which we feel more alive. Landscape recalls you into a mindful mode of stillness, solitude and silence where you can truly receive time.
Create your own inner landscapes of beauty to keep us vital in the midst of bleak and dangerous surroundings. Beauty – those edges of life – thresholds –where the fullness of reality becomes more stark and clear.
The etymology of the word threshold comes from the word thrashing which is to separate the grain from the husk. The threshold is a place where you move into more critical and more challenging and worthy fullness.”
John goes on to explain that there are many thresholds in our lives.
“The given world we think is there and the solid ground we are on is so tentative. I think a threshold is a line which separates two territories of Spirit. And how we cross this line is the key thing.”
Kristen: Where is beauty in all of that? John responded,
“Beauty isn’t all nice loveliness like. Beauty is about more rounded, substantial becoming. I think when we cross a new threshold, that if we cross worthily what we do is we heal the patterns of repetition that were in us, that had us caught somewhere. So that beauty in a sense is about 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.”
Kristen: When you think of the word beauty what pictures come into mind?
“When I think of the word beauty some of the faces of those who I love come into mind. When I think of beauty I think of beautiful landscapes that I’ve known. Then I think of acts of such lovely kindness that have been done to me by people who cared for me in bleak, unsheltered times when I needed to be loved and to be minded.”
Me: John can never express this more beautifully.
I love to recall Breathwork meditations which offered me the line of the threshold. Ones that allowed me to be in emerging fullness, grace and elegance. I always welcome the homecoming I feel when I am in my body finding the power of my breath that opens me to new vistas and healing. Clients of mine have recalled similar experience. Breathwork gives us the gift of clarity.
*John O’Donohue passed away two months after this interview at the ripe age of 52