Words to Live By: John O’Donohue

I’m surprised that I haven’t yet shared any poems or quotes from John O’Donohue because he is one of those poets that literally seems to see the souls and longings of humanity and translate them into language, a remarkable gift that I hope to cultivate over time.  It’s uncanny how his poems surface just when I need them, from books or friends or, for the poem below, from wonderful blogs like The Beauty We Love.
 
On a farm you learn to respect nature, 
particularly for the wisdom of its dark underworld.  
When you sow things in the spring, 
you commit them to the darkness of the soil.  
The soil does its own work.  
 
It is destructive to interfere with the rhythm and wisdom of its darkness.  
You sow drills of potatoes on Tuesday and you are delighted with them.  
You meet someone on a Wednesday who says 
that you spread the potatoes too thickly, you will have no crop.  
 
You dig up the potatoes again and spread them more thinly.  
 
On the following Monday, you meet an agricultural advisor who says 
this particular variety of seed potatoes needs to be spread close together.
  
You dig them up again and set them closer to each other.  
 
If you keep scraping at the garden, you will never allow anything to grow.  
People in our hungry modern world are always scraping at the clay of their hearts.  
They have a new thought, a new plan, a new syndrome, that now explains why 
they are the way they are.  They have found an old memory that opens a new wound.  
They keep on relentlessly, again and again, scraping the clay away from their own hearts.  
In nature we do not see the trees, for instance, getting seriously involved in therapeutic analysis 
of their root systems or the whole stony world that they had to avoid on their way to the light.  
Each tree grows in two directions at once, into the darkness and out to the light 
with as many branches and roots as it needs to embody its wild desires…
 
It is wise to allow the soul to carry on its secret work in the night side of your life.  
You might not see anything stirring for a long time.  
You might have only the slightest intimations 
of the secret growth that is happening within you, 
but these intimations are sufficient.

~ John O’Donohue
from Anam Cara
 
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