Monday, July 27, 2009

Beauty

One common denominator I have noticed in many blogs is the desire to share beauty - whether in the form of images, ideas, verse, places, people, products, etc. Beauty is a crucial anchor for me, and ever more so since I read John O'Donohue's book, "Beauty - The Invisible Embrace". subtitled "rediscovering the true sources of compassion, serenity, and hope". Not only does he find and illuminate beauty everywhere and in everything - he strings words together like smooth, luminous pearls. (John O'Donohue was a former priest, scholar, philosopher, and poet. He wrote and lectured on universal themes of love, beauty, solitude, death and friendship. He left many sad followers when he died too soon, in 2008, in his sleep, while vacationing in France. He was but 53. His death makes his recordings and writings all the more precious to thousands worldwide.)





Here are some of O'Donohue's words on the importance of beauty found in the introduction to his book (accompanied by a few photographs of mine, that to my eye qualify as beautiful):

"The human soul is hungry for beauty; we seek it everywhere -- in landscape, music, art, clothes, furniture, gardening, campanionship, love, religion and in ourselves . . . When we experience the Beautiful, there is a sense of homecoming . . . We feel most alive in the presence of the Beautiful for it meets the needs of our soul. For a while the strains of struggle and endurance are relieved and our frailty is illuminated by a different light in which we come to glimpse behind the shudder of appearances the sure form of things. In the experience of beauty we awaken and surrender in the same act. Beauty brings a sense of completion and sureness. Without any of the usual calculation, we can slip into the Beautiful with the same ease as we slip into the seamless embrace of water; something ancient within us already trusts that this embrace will hold us.

"These times are riven with anxiety and uncertainty, given the current global crisis. In the hearts of people some natural ease has been broken. It is astounding how this has reached deep into the heart. Our trust in the future has lost its innocence. We know now that anything can happen, from one minute to the next. The traditional structures of shelter are shaking, their foundations revealed to be no longer stone but sand. We are suddenly thrown back on ourselves. Politics, religion and economics and the institutions of family and community, all have become abruptly unsure. At first, it sounds completely naive to suggest that now might be the time to invoke and awaken beauty. Yet this is exactly the claim that this book explores. Why? Because there is nowhere else to turn and we are desperate; furthermore, it is because we have so disastrously neglected the Beautiful that we now find ourselves in such terrible crisis."

A little beauty, goodness and truth died when John O'Donohue died. But his writings remain (see below a few of his books) and anchor me still. O'Donohue sees the beauty in everything - in the flaw, even in death. His words are like a healing ointment applied to the existential wounds we all carry. I have only shared introductory remarks in his book. You will have to check it out yourself to enjoy the waft and weave of his celtic imagination. I encourage you to meet, know and love John O'Donohue, if you do not already.







As an aside, I have been working to "beautify" this blog and the makeover is almost complete in work behind the scenes with a deft blog designer. We should upload it this week. I apologize in advance for any disruptions that might arise as I switch it to it's new format - my hope is that it will be a smooth transition. So keep an eye out - and don't click off if you see a whole new look - it's still me - just an up-dated, easier to view and understand (I hope) version.
Bonnie


28 comments:

  1. hi bonnie, the blog is loking beautiful! the post on beauty is amazing - john o'donohue is a new name to me. i like what you shared of his writing. beauty is in everything including the transience of beauty. i look at fallen leaves, withered petals, wrinkled skin and see them as stories containing beauty. thanks for sharing all of this and the photographs - stunning! steven

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  2. Hi Bonnie - your lovely photographs tie in so well with those wonderful words. I look forward to seeing your new blog - although I do like it as it is!

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  3. Thank you for sharing John O'Donohue. I had not heard of him before and his wisdom in these tough times is priceless. I appreciate the reminder!

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  4. A new blog look will be fun...something created that speaks to who you are and the journal you are creating. Looking forward to the reveal!!

    As for John O'Donohue...his words are beautiful, inspirational and divine in so many ways. I have only read "Anam Cara" but am bookmarking his other works. And I loved how you described his writing ♥

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  5. Steven:

    Glad you like the photos. Yes,there is beauty in absolutely everything if we are aware and look deeply enough. I can recall having the first impression that a person is "beauty challenged" . . . but as I get to know them I recall the arrogant thought and wonder what on earth I was thinking - because they have the deepest, most radiant eyes and their smile makes me melt - they are truly beautiful - but in my rush to judgment, at first, I missed it.

    I always appreciate your comments.

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  6. Weaver of Grass: Thank you. I like this blog too, but I wanted a full screen format, found a wonderful blog designer here among we bloggers (will tell you all about her in a future post) and she is giving me much more than a wider posting surface. I'll look forward to your feedback.

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  7. Hi Julie:

    Thanks for dropping by. Do check out John O'D. Give yourself a gift.

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  8. Sherry Lee:

    Hope you get "Beauty: The Invisible Embrace". I have purchased many to give as gifts - it is a book, if you are like me, you will pick up to read again and again.

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  9. Looking forward to seeing the new format - I'm reluctant to change my format since the last attempt - but might have another go. Lovely photographs Bonnie.

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  10. I must say...your photos go well with his thinking. And how profound he is in relating to the current times and seeking beauty. It is so relaxing to look at something beautiful..for me, the country or the simplistic beauty of nature...that can relieve the pressures that we all are experiencing during these economic woes.

    I'm liking your new blog look so far!

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  11. Hello Bonnie,

    I find the blog peaceful the way it is so am interested to see what you will come up with.

    The white flower is just lovely and John O' Donahue a breath of fresh air. I have Anam Cara (with a green cover)so will look for the others.

    I tend to agree with Steven about the added value of transience in beauty. I also like to be awed by the environment - it may not necessarily be beauty in the conventional meaning... but there are lots of things that take my breath away...these days...now I make the effort...take the time...and look...

    Happy days

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  12. You mean this blog is going to look even better?!

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  13. Bonnie, first of all, thanks for stopping by my blog, secondly, thank you for this post! Your photos are exquisite! And your words are equally beautiful. I have been trying to come up with something to read when we go camping Friday plus I have a very long flight coming up later in August and O'Donohue, I think, is just what I've been looking for. I agree with you that so many bloggers really try to focus on the beauty in the world rather than the all too obvious "ugly" everywhere. I've turned more and more on my blog to the beautiful things in my life, in my world, in our world! It has been and is, the greatest thing I've found in a long time. Something that offers and brings so much love and beauty and joy into my life as it does to so many others. Thank you! And I'll be back!
    Have a lovely day!
    Sylvia

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  14. These photographs are gorgeous, the first has a real sensual quality to it.

    I look forward to your blog make-over. I love that you seek out beauty, but please know that the true beauty here, are the thoughts and insights you expressed within these "pages" along with the encouragment and kindness in your comments. Thank you Bonnie.

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  15. This is a great piece. It caused me to think about my own life as it is right now. I have a certain amount of stress and I have been more involved and aware of my gardens then I have been for some years. I realize I have been trying to absorb the beauty around me, take it into myself and use it as a buffer to the stress and anxiety. Thank you for this writing.

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  16. Gleaner:

    Look forward to your feedback - always look forward to you dropping by.

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  17. Alicia:

    Yes, O'Donohue was not only profound, but prescient, as the book was written in 2003.

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  18. When I think of beauty, I think of anything natural. Ugly to me seems to be man-made, although it need not be that way we are capable of great beauty. How quickly nature can consume the detritus of our lives and make the ugly beautiful again if only it is left to its own devices. Peace.

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  19. Delwyn:

    That is exactly O'Donohue's point: not just seeing beauty in what clearly pleases the eye, but finding beauty in the most unexpected places and ways. This book is not just about the visual pleasures of natural beauty - it is much more than that, as you intimate.

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  20. I Am Tulsa:

    Well thank you - it is not really beauty I am searching for in a new format - but space. I want the blog to take up the full screen. But while at it, there is no harm in trying to make it pleasing to the eye - n'est ce pas?

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  21. Sylvia:

    Why thank you! I hope you find the book - it feeds the soul not just the eye.

    I'll be looking for you back here.

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  22. Here Under The Rainbow:

    That's such kind feedback - because this is all about the content not the container.

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  23. Sandra:

    That is a beautiful way to put it: "as a buffer to the stress . . ." Beauty as buffer.
    You have been through a lot in July! Good to know you are surrounded by the beauty and love of your family and horses and farm.

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  25. Hi Bonnie, Love the new format! The pictures are stunning in your blog. John O'Donohue Anam Cara is one of my favorite books! I did not read the other on beauty.. will need to get me a copy..

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  26. That flower shot is beautiful!

    ~Aly

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  27. It is so great to see how John’s work continues to weave “words of love . . . an invisible cloak, to mind your life.” I also want to support you in sharing that inspiration and love. If you would like more information about John and his work you can visit the website www.johnodonohue.com.

    Warmly,
    Lindaa

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