The John O’Donohue Connection

Apparently Irish poet John O’Donohue, well-known for his Celtic spiritually, was a good friend of some of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. In fact, he’d come to San Antonio, and elsewhere, at their request. I only learned about this recently.

It’s not surprising, I suppose, given that many of  the Sisters came over from Ireland years ago. Some may even have been from County Clare where he was born.

Sr. Brigid, my spiritual companion and probably my biggest supporter in San Antonio,  knew him well. She hails from County Kildaire, where O’Donohue spent his early years as a novitiate. At my farewell luncheon I listened to her and other friends tell amusing stories about John as if he were an endeared brother.

I sat there wondering, how could this be?

I mean, not only because I love John O’Donohue’s poetry. Although that’s certainly true. Ever since I came across his writing a couple of years after his death in 2008, I’ve claimed him as one of my favorite poets. From the first lines I read — and I can’t even recall which poem it was — my heart lifted. My imagination blossomed. My longing awakened.


But beyond being excited and delighted about the Sisters’ special friendship with O’Donohue came another realization.

Many months before I ever considered leaving my home in Virginia I would choose and reflect on selected poems taken from his wonderful collection called To Bless the Space Between Us. One of my favorites was, and continues to be, a blessing “For Longing.”

This poem resonated with something in me I couldn’t name. But I felt it in the depths of my heart and soul. O’Donohue put me in touch with my divine longing.

Musing over those lines of poetry created a restlessness that encouraged me to take risks. To seek something beyond the familiarity of home. To imagine the possibilities of truly following my heart.


Ironically, O’Donohue’s words brought me to Incarnate Word Missionaries. They connected me with the Sisters he held so dear. And in doing so, have enabled me to learn some of the most important lessons I needed on this journey. Lessons about trusting myself and trusting my inner being, which I know as God responding to my longing. And lessons about what it means to follow your heart when nothing about doing so seems to make any sense.

Once again I see the synchronicity of events. And I’m shown something much more — the connection between heaven and earth.

The most beautiful thing about us is our longing; this longing is spiritual and has great depth and wisdom.

John O’Donohue


“For Longing”


4 thoughts on “The John O’Donohue Connection

  1. Alice Holden

    Thank you, Pauline, for sharing so beautifully! Actually, I hosted John at ReBarn in the early 90’s. He was brought in by an artist who had a show there and had a quote of O’Donohue’s in a labyrinth she had painted. She didn’t know during the painting of the piece that the words belonged to a famous poet!​ Her name was Juliette Wood. Hope all is wonderfully well with you!!! Ah

    Alice Holden, CCVI (210) 525-1232

    On Fri, Nov 28, 2014 at 12:09 AM, A Journey of the Heart wrote:

    > Pauline Hovey posted: ” Apparently Irish poet John O’Donohue, > well-known for his Celtic spiritually, was a good friend of some of the > Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. In fact, he’d come to San > Antonio, and elsewhere, at their request. I only learned about this > recentl”


  2. Hello Pauline, I have never done this before so I do hope it’s o.k!
    I just came across the name John O Donohue when someone sent me a quotation of his and suddenly I was taken back to the first time I ever heard of him and read his writings as a student Counsellor in 1994

    . I have sat here for the past hour looking him up and reading his writings and I have been, as I was then, moved in a place deep inside myself that I have not visited for such a long time I had forgotten it existed.
    In my original discovery of his writings I think I found that place as if for the first time and it changed me.

    I then found your blog and read your words about ‘trusting yourself….your inner being and knowing that as God responding to your longing’ I find in these words such an echo in my own heart and feel as if I have just been spoken to, deep in my soul. Thank-you so much.

    [Pseudonym Harrietbelle]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pauline

      Dear Chrystabell, I’m so heartened by your finding such resonance within yourself, both from John O’Donohue’s words and mine. It’s special to me to be able to help others discover the importance of trusting their inner being. I’m still learning to do this myself, and you may find other blog posts helpful in that regard. Thank you for letting me know this. I wish you well on your journey.


      1. I am just sorting out my inbox and came across this one that I had meant to answer at the time of receiving just to say that you may appreciate some of my writings that you can find on my blog. I do not use Facebook or any other social media so my writings only get read by friends and people who I share with along the way. I have not been keeping it up to date, mainly because nobody really sees it, but you may like some of the words I have posted there at:.


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