In our reviews of his previous books, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom and Eternal Echoes: Exploring Our Yearning to Belong, we affirmed poet and Catholic scholar John O'Donohue as a cartographer of the soul with a rousing, passionate, and philosophical purview. With Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, he offers a sweeping and intense survey of beauty that will stir your soul and stoke the fires of your imagination.
Humans yearn for beauty and seek it everywhere, O'Donohue observes. But sadly, there is a surfeit of ugliness, coarseness, and tawdriness in the media, in architecture, and in our environment. "In turning away from beauty, we turn away from all that is wholesome and true, and deliver ourselves into an exile where the vulgar and the artificial dull and deaden the human spirit." Also lamentable is our habit of mistaking glamour for beauty. Far too much emphasis is put upon good looks, image, and fashion. Far too little attention is given to the dignity, grandeur, and nobility of the human spirit.
O'Donohue is convinced that it is time to invoke and awaken beauty in all aspects of our lives. He takes us on a grand tour of beauty in art, music, dance, poetry, colors, nature, the human face, love, the shadowlands of pain and despair, and even death. He is agile and adept whether writing about the paintings of Vermeer, the philosophy of Aquinas, the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, or the meaning of flaws in Japanese objects. He embraces the spiritual practices of reverence, grace, faith, and imagination as beauty enhancers. "It is the deepest dream of the human soul to be in the intimacy of Divine Beauty," he concludes.
O'Donohue's enthusiasm for whatever he is writing about is his most endearing quality, and you will delight in all the fresh openings he reveals for beauty in your life.