Beauty. Pure beauty.
There. I could finish here. Because it’s true. Pure beauty, that’s what this book is – Beauty The invisible embrace authored by John O’Donohue. And the funny thing is – I normally abhor audio books, but this one, read by John himself… now that I might truly enjoy, I believe. His soft-spoken rolling sweet Irish accent is wonderful to listen to, and when I was reading it was as if I could hear him whispering in my ears, that which my eyes were taking in. That’s actually how I was recommended the book, by my former coach. She told me to find the audiobook!
Which I didn’t (not for lack of trying). All the same I am very happy that I bought the physical book instead.
“These times are riven with anxiety and uncertainty, given the current global crisis. […] Our trust in the future has lost its innocence. We know now that anything can happen, from one minute to the next. The traditional structures of shelter are shaking, their foundations revealed to be no longer stone but sand. We are suddenly thrown back on ourselves. Politics, religion and economics and the institutions of family and community, all have become abruptly unsure. At first, it sounds completely naïve to suggest that now might be the time to invoke and awaken beauty. Yet this is exactly the claim that this book explores. Why? Because there is nowhere else to turn and we are desperate; furthermore, it is because we have so disastrously neglected the Beautiful that we now find ourselves in such terrible crisis.”
Beauty was originally written in 2003, yet, upon reading this paragraph, I feel John O’Donohue is talking about this very moment in time. Climate crisis. Refugees. Wars. Natural disasters. Nationalism on the rise in more places than I care to know. As I write this, the voting in the general election in Sweden 2018 is four minutes from closing time. Four minutes until the counting of all votes will commence… and I fear the results which is totally unprecedented in my life.
“The way we look at things has a huge influence on what becomes visible to us. […] Eventually the windows of the mind become blinded by an imperceptible film of dead thought and old feeling so that the air within becomes stale, life lessens and the outside world loses its invitation and challenge. When no fresh light can come into the mind, the colour and beauty fade from life. There is an uncanny symmetry between the inner and the outer world. Each person is the sole inhabitant of their own inner world; no-one else can get in there to configure how things are seen. Each of us is responsible for how we see, and how we determine what we see. Seeing is not merely a physical act; the heart of vision is shaped by the state of soul. When the soul is alive to beauty, we begin to see life in a fresh and vital way.”
Based on my social media feed, I am saddened and frightened by what seems to be visible to people. How they see… and what. And who’s to blame. Pointing fingers. Painting doomsday images, where Beauty is long since dead and buried. This is not what I need right now. And I don’t think it’s what you – or we as a collective – need either. We need the opposite:
“To behold beauty dignifies your life; it heals you and calls you out beyond the smallness of your own self-limitation to experience new horizons. To experience beauty is to have your life enlarged.“
Yes. Please, more beauty. For me. For you. How I wish for you – and you, and you, and you! – to experience more beauty.
The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.