Apr 22 2009

John O’Donohue – In Praise of the Earth

Published by at 9:05 am under Ivan's Story,Poetry

In Praise of the Earth
by John O’Donohue

Let us bless
The imagination of the Earth,
That knew early the patience
To harness the mind of time,
Waited for the seas to warm,
Ready to welcome the emergence
Of things dreaming of voyaging
Among the stillness of land.

And how light knew to nurse
The growth until the face of the Earth
Brightened beneath a vision of color.

When the ages of ice came
And sealed the Earth inside
An endless coma of cold,
The heart of the Earth held hope,
Storing fragments of memory,
Ready for the return of the sun.

Let us thank the Earth
That offers ground for home
And hold our feet firm
To walk in space open
To infinite galaxies.

Let us salute the silence
And certainty of mountains:
Their sublime stillness,
Their dream-filled hearts.

The wonder of a garden
Trusting the first warmth of spring
Until its black infinity of cells
Becomes charged with dream;
Then the silent, slow nurture
Of the seed’s self, coaxing it
To trust the act of death.

The humility of the Earth
That transfigures all
That has fallen
Of outlived growth.

The kindness of the Earth,
Opening to receive
Our worn forms
Into the final stillness.

Let us ask forgiveness of the Earth
For all our sins against her:
For our violence and poisonings
Of her beauty.

Let us remember within us
The ancient clay,
Holding the memory of seasons,
The passion of the wind,
The fluency of water,
The warmth of fire,
The quiver-touch of the sun
And shadowed sureness of the moon.

That we may awaken,
To live to the full
The dream of the Earth
Who chose us to emerge
And incarnate its hidden night
In mind, spirit, and light.

— from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, by John O’Donohue


/ Photo by Katie Tegtmeyer /

An Earth Day poem for you today.

There was a time when I lived on Maui, without much money but surrounded by stunning natural beauty. I stayed in a place half-way up Haleakala Volcano, at the edge of a eucalyptus forest. I fasted a lot in those days, and several times a week I would walk barefoot into the woods. Hidden among the trees was a small rock cave, just large enough for me to sit upright in meditation. To sit quietly in the cool, silent embrace of the Earth — a true blessing!

Though I now live in a small city, in a computer-powered world, I still carry that time with me in my heart. That memory continuously reminds me that, in spite of skyscrapers and the Internet, the world is not man-made. All the works of humanity are small accomplishments compared with the panoramic living miracle of the Earth.

The ground below us, sky above us, breath within us — all is the living Earth.

The Earth is the stage for our dramas.

Let us thank the Earth
That offers ground for home
And hold our feet firm
To walk in space open
To infinite galaxies.

Not only could we not act without the Earth, we could not dream. The images the objects, the colors that populate the human psyche, they are all of the Earth too. The Earth speaks to us, and gives us a vocabulary to speak back.

The Earth is the place of birth, the stuff of life, and rest in death.

The kindness of the Earth,
Opening to receive
Our worn forms
Into the final stillness.

The Earth is our everything.

While we as individuals live out the span of years alotted to us, the Earth is the full embodiment, the whole multiplicity of Life.

The tangible hints at the intangible. Matter expresses spirit. Earth gives form to heaven. How can we not honor that form? It is sacred. And it is us. You and I emerge to incarnate that form. Our challenge is to awaken and incarnate the secret light it suggests.

That we may awaken,
To live to the full
The dream of the Earth
Who chose us to emerge
And incarnate its hidden night
In mind, spirit, and light.

Take some time today to sit on the Earth. Run your fingers through the grass. Feel the quiet strength filling your bones. Know you are home.

Have a beautiful day!

John O'Donohue, John O'Donohue poetry, Christian poetry John O’Donohue

Ireland (1954 – 2008) Timeline
Christian : Catholic
Secular or Eclectic

John O’Donohue is an inspiring Irish philosopher, poet, mystic who passed away unexpectedly in early 2008.

John O’Donohe had degrees in philosophy and literature. His writings, though grounded in academic philosophy and theology, are immediate, personal, very human. He was as much a mystic and a poet as a contributor to philosophical dialog.

Much of his writing and poetry drew deeply from Irish Celtic perspectives, both in Christian and pre-Christian wisdom, while speaking to a widely diverse, modern audience.

More poetry by John O’Donohue

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “John O’Donohue – In Praise of the Earth”

  1. shalalehon 22 Apr 2009 at 12:21 pm

    hello from iran! im glad to know u, thank u for every thing

    greetings from tabriz
    shalaleh

  2. Anahitaon 23 Apr 2009 at 6:04 am

    Thanks for a most beautiful poem to comemorate Earth Day !!
    Today we should all bow our heads in prayer to Her ever giving bounties …… She gives without any thought for return, & thats how we should strive to be too.

  3. Beryl Singleton Bissellon 23 Apr 2009 at 8:33 am

    While reading your commentary, seeing you on that mountain, the scent of eucalyptus, your bare feet in the woods, the small cave where you meditated, I felt I was there with you.

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