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In Praise of Air

photo of dark clouds in a peach colored sky / In Praise of Air

In Praise of Air

by John O’Donohue

Let us bless the air,
Benefactor of breath,
Keeper of the fragile bridge
We breathe across.

Air waiting outside
The womb, to funnel
A first breath
That lets us begin
To be here,
Each moment
Drawn from
Its invisible stop.

Air: vast neighborhood
Of the invisible, where thought lives,
Entering, to arise in us as our own,
Enabling us to put faces on things
That would otherwise stay strange
And leave us homeless here.

Air, home of memory where
Our vanished days secretly gather,
Receiving every glance, word, and act
That fall from presence,
Taking all our unfolding in,
So that nothing is lost of forgotten.

Air: reservoir of the future
Out of which our days flow,
Ferrying their shadowed nights,
The invisible generosity,
That brings us future friends
And sometimes stones of sorrow
On which our minds refine.

Air along whose unseen path
Presence builds its quiet procession;
Sometimes in waves of sound,
Voices that can persuade
Every door of the heart;
Often in tides of music
That absolve the cut of time.

Air: source of breath
That enables flowers to flourish,
And calls the dark, rooted trees
To ascend into blossom.
Air, perfect emptiness
For the minds of birds
To map with vanishings;
Womb of forms
That shapes embraces
to hold animal presence.

Air makes the distance kind,
Opening pathways for the eye
To reach the affections of things,
Yet never lets its invisible geography
Come anywhere near thought
Or the voyage-edges of the eye.

Air: kingdom of spirit
Where our departed dwell,
Nearer to us than ever,
Where the gods preside.

Let us bless the invigoration
Of clean, free air.

The gentleness of air
That holds and slows the rain,
Lets it fall down.

The shyness of air
That never shows its face.

The force of air
In wall after wall
Of straining wind.

In the name of the air,
The breeze,
And the wind,
May our souls
Stay in rhythm
With eternal

You might also enjoy John O’Donohue’s poem, For a New Beginning, which along with In Praise of Air, can be found in his book, To Bless the Space Between Us. Discover more about how I work bridge nature and contemplative practices here.

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