A lighthouse with mysterious mist approaching, illuminated by the evening sun.Beauty, said the late the Irish writer and poet John O’Donohue, is the place inside of us that is not wounded. That is free and expansive and unburdened by the sorrow we carry around from our past.

“Your identity is not equivalent to your biography,” is his message. There is a place is all of us “where there is still a sureness in you, where there’s a seamlessness in you and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you.”

I love this image of a place of peace that lies within all of us. We don’t have to go and find it somewhere else. We don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to visit a wellness resort or buy happiness by going on a shopping spree. We don’t have to look to someone else to give us something we think we need.

We already have it. We just don’t pay attention to it.

One way to get to that “inner sanctuary”, as O’Donohue calls it, is meditation. He uses the image of the ocean of our existence. It is stirred up and impacted by the storms of life, but deep under the surface is a stillness that even the most furious hurricanes can’t touch.

It’s important to know that in the midst of chaos and turmoil there is a refuge we can tap into.

I’ve started listening to NPR’s “On Being,” a show about – well, being human. It’s fast becoming my favorite podcast to listen to while I drive.

A few years ago it featured an interview with John O’Donohue and his philosophy of beauty. To him, walking out into the landscape, whatever it looks like, is alivening and calming at the same time. It’s a setting where we can become introspective and yet mindful of our surroundings.

His message is very soothing. He believes that we are all artists, that we create our world by making choices, by putting our imagination to use, by having relationships, by conjuring up stories in our dreams – while we are asleep and while we are awake.

We tend to focus a lot on our pain and on the things that don’t work for us. And there certainly is a time and place for that. We do need to acknowledge the aspects of us that were indeed hurt.

But we tend to neglect the places where we don’t need any fixing. Where everything is all right the way it already is.


photo credit: sundaune