Always Something Beautiful

Cemetery in Fanore, County Claire, Ireland

Our family is in County Claire, Ireland, walking the Burren Way. On one stretch, we walked 13 miles to the little village by the sea, Fanore, only to discover this is the burial place of one of Miska’s favorite modern poets, John O’Donohue. He left us too soon, in 2008. The cemetery is a small plot tucked into a stark, bare hillside, with an expansive view of the wild Atlantic. John often said that if we’re to endure times of bleakness, it is essential to always keep the image of something beautiful in your soul. His resting place does just this.

I met a young woman who was visiting the grave of a loved one. She was friends with John and shared stories of how he’d light up every room he entered, and how in the lashing rain, she’d take her dog to the beach — and John would be the only other person out reveling in the tempest along with her. John would ask how she was, and she’d reply with a quick brush-off response.

“No,” he’d say (and you have to hear this in the strong Irish lilt this woman and John shared). “How are you really?”

So, I hope you are keeping your heart’s eye on something beautiful. And I hope you have someone near you who every once in a while says, “No, how are you really.”

Thank you, John. You gave us so much.

Southern Portion of the Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

17 Replies to “Always Something Beautiful”

  1. Love your writing! Am about halfway through “Bones” and loving Peterson because of your gift of storytelling.
    My wife & I were in Western Ireland for our 25th anniversary. This year will be 36 years. Have a wonderful time there!
    God bless you & your lovely family.

    1. thank you, Stuart. Miska and I will be in Scotland on our 25th, this Fall. What beautiful places to give thanks for beautiful love.

  2. Blessing you, Winn, for the beauty your heart channels to the world…in your words, your photographs; all your gifts. Thanks be!

  3. Thank you Winn. This warmed my heart. My husband, a one of a kind man’s man who gave of himself to all in need, went to be with our Lord 4-4-22. I am grieving but am trying to see something each day that gives me joy. It helps.
    Phil was a Vietnam Vet who died of bladder cancer which escaped his bladder during Covid. Appointments were cancelled or delayed and then it was to late.

    1. Oh, Bette, I’m so sorry. What a sorrow this is, and I’m sorry I’m only now replying. May grace and mercy sustain you, even as the long love you shared holds you still.

  4. Thx Winn,
    Looks like a great time.
    It seems most of our travels these days are virtual. Such good memories of many and anticipation of more journeys!

  5. We visited Ireland 5 years ago with our son and daughter-in-law. It was truly lovely. I need a little more sun than most Irish days afford, but the lovely mass of plants of many types and colors on the sides of the narrow roads never ceased to amaze me. They were glorious. I also loved the rock outlined paddocks for the sheep and cows. The clean city streets were lovely to me. As our pastor says, “Keepyour eyes open and see the glory and goodness of God in the world around, every day.”

    1. We were very fortunate to have very little rain and much sun this time, very different from our last walking tour in Ireland.

  6. Thank-you for this story, am still reading a burning on my Bones and am enjoying short bits of it each time.
    I love the way you’ve narrated this. ‘No, how are you really, ‘is such an important question which very few would dare to ask. It reminded me too of someone who asked me of I would answer
    a similar question honestly when asked!!! Absolutely I would say but I’d choose the audience , ‘cos not everyone who asks you -‘how are you? ‘ is actually willing to listen to you!
    I haven’t read John Donohue’s poetry but will now look it up!

  7. Oh, how we loved Ireland! We went with our middle daughter, her husband and her two-year-old first born over 20 years ago, and it was probably the favorite of our many trips. We rented a farmhouse on the edge of the Burren, about 45 minutes south of Galway for a week and we rented a cottage down a very steep, narrow driveway on the Beara peninsula for another week, and finished it off with three days in Dublin. We had spectacular weather and enjoyed every single minute. It’s a thin place, the entire island. I hope you had a fabulous time!

    1. What a marvelous trip. These moments are always present with us, aren’t they, even if many years have passed.

  8. What luck to come across the burial site of such a marvelous man. I return to his books and recorded interviews again and again. Thank you for posting that first photo. It is a comforting image, in a strange but beautiful way.

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