by John O’Donohue
May you listen to your longing to be free.
May the frames of your belonging be generous enough for your dreams.
May you arise each day with a voice of blessing whispering in your heart.
May you find a harmony between your soul and your life.
May the sanctuary of your soul never become haunted.
May you know the eternal longing that lives at the heart of time.
May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within.
May you never place walls between the light and yourself.
May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world to gather you,
mind you, and embrace you in belonging.
Questions for Discussion and Reflection
1. Why is there such a crisis of belonging in our times? What are the characteristics of our fragmented and broken belonging? What are the voices of longing in your heart at this time in your life? Where do you think you were before you came here? What is the true relationship of longing and belonging? In your childhood, how did longing and belonging relate? In what ways do you actually belong in the world?
2. Human presence is unique, passionate and complex: discuss. What styles of presence do you have? How are you present to people who are angry, indifferent or threatening? Where is your anger? Is there any ascetic dimension to your life? Freedom also consists in keeping the contours of your choices porous: discuss. How do you incarnate longing?
3. What is false belonging? Why are you afraid of freedom? The images others make for us are never sufficient: discuss. How are guilt and shame related? Where is the haunted room in your mind? Where are the walls of your private prisons? Can you identify in your life the gifts brought to you by the angels of attraction and inspiration?
4. Suffering and evil are the most critical evidence against our belief in a good, kind God: discuss. Can there be growth and creativity without darkness? Why are we so vulnerable? Is spontaneity disappearing from our lives? Does suffering eventually give way to transformation? How important is failure in your life? No wound is ever silent: discuss.
5. What is your understanding of prayer? When and how do you pray? How does prayer help us to see things differently? How is wonder related to prayer? Why is wonder so vital to the world of spirituality? How does prayer change our experience of space and time? Write out your own prayer to suit the rhythm of your life and the shape of your soul.
6. What are the absences in your life? How does presence differ from absence? When do you experience real presence? When we talk too easily about ourselves, we cheapen our mystery: discuss. How does the role of participant and observer balance in your life? Discuss a philosophy of loss. What pathways toward new community lie hidden around us? What is the grief in your life? Who are the people you never hear from? What traditions do you really belong to? How can you reclaim the traditions that belong to you?
by John O Donohue
blessed be the longing that brought you here
and quickens your soul with wonder.
may you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
that disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.
may you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
to discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.
may the forms of your belonging – in love, creativity, and friendship –
be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.
may the one you long for long for you.
may your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.
may a secret providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.
may your mind inhabit your life with the sureness
with which your body inhabits the world.
may your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage.
may you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
may you know the urgency with which God longs for you.
Krista Tippet interviewed John O Donohue for her series of podcasts OnBeing, just a few months before he died. It is a delight to listen to this beautiful conversation.