John O’Donohue on Longing

Oh, what voices speak us toward our inner being!

from Eternal Echoes, John O’Donohue

There is a divine restlessness in the human heart. Though our bodies maintain an outer stability and consistency, the heart is an eternal nomad. No circle of belonging can ever contain all the longings of the human heart.

As Shakespeare said, we have “immortal longings.” All human creativity issues from the urgency of longing. Literally and physically, each of us is a child of longing – conceived in the passionate desire of our parents for each other.

All growth is the desire of the soul to refine and enlarge its presence. The human body is a temple of sensuous spirit. In every moment our senses reach out in longing to engage the world.

Movement, colour, and shape engage the affections of the eye; tone, sound, and silence call continually to our hearing: touch, fragrance, and taste also bring us into intimacy with the world.

Our sensuous longing is inevitably immediate and passionate: the caress on the skin, the twilight that enthrals your seeing, Faure’s Requiem which suffused the depths of your hearing, the unexpected fragrance of a perfume, the icon of the face that you love. As long as we live in the temple of the sense, longing will eternally call us.