I’m a big fan of the late Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue.
O’Donohue writes with such depth and clarity that his work is timeless. I recently read some of his poems, and I found his words to be critical in the current world challenges.
The essence of life is beauty. Not the type of beauty that can only be found in culture or aesthetics, but the beauty found in depth. A deep understanding of complexity transforms this type of beauty. O’Donohue is quoted as saying, “If our style of looking become[s] beautiful, then beauty will become visible and shine forth for us.” This statement resonates strongly inside of me. I feel so fortunate to be called into communion with so much beauty regularly. I am blessed to be enriched by the deep beauty of an almost 30-year marriage and the immeasurable power of a healthy and happy child – but more than that, I am enriched through service and commitment.
There is nothing easy about the work we do with HBI. So much of what we do is about continuously showing up in the lives of others. It is about commitment and connection. This is true beauty.
I am back in Lima. I arrived a couple of days ago. I am joined on this trip by two important supporters of HBI’s work. This afternoon we took them out to some of the most impoverished communities in Lima to visit with families in our Ines Project. We will call one of the families, the Alvaro’s – and they live at the top of a long flight of stairs high on a hill. Their home is a mishmash of discarded wood and poured concrete – the fruits of years of saving and a multitude of informal jobs. The government deems them ineligible for assistance because they have a poured concrete floor.
Juan, not his real name, is enrolled in the Ines Project. At 12 years old, he has a constellation of congenital, developmental, and physical challenges. Juan’s brother, who lived with similar challenges and was also enrolled in the Ines Project, recently died from complications associated with his condition.
Juan lives in a wheelchair, and the concrete floor is a true blessing for the family. Whenever Juan has a medical appointment – which is often – Sra. Alvaro must carry him on her back down and back-up the long flight of stairs. She performs this activity many times a week. She does it with such love and dedication. She is the pure embodiment of beauty.
While visiting the Alvaro family, I took a picture. In the photo, Señora Alvaro is looking over her dear son with the eyes of love. The depth of her gaze speaks volumes. This is true beauty.
The poet John O’Donohue would be able to memorialize the moment in more eloquent prose. I will end this post with his rich teachings – wow, talk about beautiful.
“May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.”
— John O’Donohue.