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Walking on the Pastures of Wonder

John O’Donohue in conversation with John Quinn
John O’Donohue; John Quinn



When John O'Donohue died suddenly in January 2008, he left a deep void in the hearts and minds of many people. For more than a decade prior to his death, his writings, talks and broadcasts had done much to feed the 'unprecedented spiritual hunger' that he had observed in modern society. His books on Celtic spirituality were bestsellers; his broadcasts and talks tapped into the needs of the sizeable audiences that tuned into them.

Over a period of five years I was privileged to work with John on a variety of radio programmes. We climbed Mamean mountain in Connemara for 'This Place Speaks To Me'. We discussed Meister Eckhart as his choice of 'Millennium Mind'. We explored ageing and death for the series 'L Plus'. We spoke about wonder for 'The Open Mind', and John delivered the 1997 Open Mind Guest Lecture on the theme of absence. Our loss ofjohn is tempered by the legacy of these broadcasts and I am indebted to Veritas for making them available in print and to RTE for originally broadcasting them, as well as to John's family - to Pat O'Donohue, John's brother, in particular for his foreword - and literary estate, in particular to Linda Alvarez, for their cooperation in this venture. I have interspersed between the sections some of John's 'Blessings' from his book, Benedictus.

Wonder, imagination and possibility were John's great concerns, and he articulated them in his own inimitable lyrical style. The rich flow of his language cadences, rhythms, colloquial flavouring - were a large part of John's attraction to his radio audience. This poses a dilemma, however, when translating radio programmes into print. Do you edit transcripts heavily — almost re-write them - to accommodate the print medium? Or do you leave them relatively intact, faithful to the original? We have opted for the latter, in the belief that John's words still sing off the page. We hope that you, the reader, will concur.Whatever the medium, there are great riches here — the product of a brilliant mind, a mind that never stopped striving to advance the frontiers of possibility.

John Quinn