Fluent, Like a River

The Irish poet, priest, and philosopher John O’Donohue (1956-2008) wrote,


I would like to live
Like a river flows.
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding.

I’m glad for the image of water, flowing. I’m glad for the invocation of how the river is never the same twice. It changes. As do we.

The river and its flow are as close as I can find to what we humans are in our shifting consciousness, or perhaps spirit. We too, are never the same twice. We too, are carried by an inherent unfolding.

There is something compellingly inviting to me in the invitation to notice ourselves, others, and the many scales of composite, as flowing. 

The river is not the water, nor the banks.

We humans, in these many places of dwelling, are not just mind, nor are we just shells for physiology. 

For when we, like the river, are seen as mystery in motion, ah, then it gets so much more interesting and alive.

I too, would like to be a bit more fluent in all of that.

Hello Monday.



For Celebration — John O’Donohue’s Blessing

Glad for this invocation of celebration from the poet and priest, John O’Donohue. His book,  “To Bless the Space Between Us” remains a favorite.

Yesterday, to begin a day with UCC Pastors, I read the poem below. To invoke so much of what O’Donohue writes — the free heart, joy, friendships, mystery, participation in life.


Now is the time to free the heart,
Let all intentions and worries stop,
Free the joy inside the self,
Awaken to the wonder of your life.

Open your eyes and see the friends,
Whose hearts recognize your face as kin,
Those whose kindness watchful and near,
Encouraging you to live everything here.

See the gifts the years have given,
Things your effort could never earn,
The health to enjoy who you want to be
And the mind to mirror mystery.



Blessing (Inspired By Flight)

I’ve been reading a bit of John O’Donohue lately, the Irish Poet and Writer (1956 – 2008). Reading with delight. With instinctive pause after seeing his words, knowing that I want them not just in my mind, but in my belly.

A favorite, and goto book for me is his Book of Blessings. It’s dandy. Soulful. Accessible. Loaded with great imagery. I was glad to hear recently from my older sister that she was moved by the copy of “Book of Blessings” that I gave to her. A favorite for her is this blessing “For Equilibrium“.


For Equilibrium

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity by lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough
to hear in the depths the laughter of god.”


Inspired a bit by the flight I was on yesterday, marveling again at what it feels like to be above the clouds, and then return to earth, I wrote this kind of blessing — that I wish for others and for myself, that I wish for the groups I get to be with, and for the individuals that mingle among them.

May the open sky, should we ever be able to see it,
remind us of our vastness.
May we have clouds to catch us,
or perhaps create a perception of being caught and held.
May we never forget what is below, in ourselves and in others,
nor be negligent in our willingness to get there and to explore there too.

For Longing — John O’Donohue

I used this poem recently, at the beginning of a World Cafe, that was shaped to focus on awareness of norms (internal and external), desired departure from such norms, and desired movement toward what has the energy of calling in life and in work.

It’s a poem that I love, for the way that it points me / us toward the deeper colors of longing. Much like this maple tree with brilliant sunlit yellow, last week at the Fire & Water Leadership Cohort.



For Longing
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.