John O'Donohue passed away unexpectedly and peacefully in his sleep in the night of January 3, 2008. On Saturday, January 12 2008, he was laid to rest in Fanore, County Clare, Ireland with nearly 500 friends, family and fans in attendance. Here is one of his poems, which was posted on his website:
On the death of the Beloved
Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or might or pain can reach you.
Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of colour.
The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.
Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.
Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.
We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.
Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul’s gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.
Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.
When orchids brighten the earth,
Darkest winter has turned to spring;
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.
May you continue to inspire us:
To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again.
-- John O’Donohue
John O'Donohue was an Irish poet and philosopher, best known as for his books and recordings on Celtic spirituality. He had degrees in philosophy and English literature and was awarded a Ph.D in philosophical theology from the University of Tubingen in 1990. His dissertation developed a new concept of Person through a re-interpretation of the philosophy of Hegel.
Through the glow of image and narrative and a deft underpinning of thought, John's writing draws the reader into intimate conversation with neglected or unknown regions of the soul. Readers say his work puts words on things they have felt for years but never found expressed. He evoked an atmosphere of attention where heart and head gradually open to new horizons and where often the inspired self gains courage to break free from inner prisons. His work for many became a threshold where the hunger of contemporary questions awakened treasure-wells from traditional sources.
As a speaker John's poetic gift was recognized by the corporate world where he often spoke about the themes of leadership, the awakening of creativity, the gift of encouragement, the art of change, and finding courage. His prose and his poetry mapped the lineaments of the soul and celebrated the imagination.
- A rich mining of Celtic spirituality, poetry, and stories
- Sensitive and skillful cartography of the soul
- Revelations of the significance of imagination as a spiritual resource