That Worthy Wordsmith is our ‘Anam Cara’

That Worthy Wordsmith is our Anam Cara

In memory of John O’Donohue (1956 – 2008)

 John O’Donohue

had a way

with words

and sounds

and souls

and images.

His words

can land upon us,

like a soft, gentle rain.


as time unfolds

we become sodden

from its falling.

It washes our dryness

of soul.


it does not dampen our spirit.

It irrigates our vocabulary

and grows our minds.

John’s sharing of our inner light

awakens our longing,

to know

someone understands

the gurgling gestation

of life within

our very selves.

To read or hear him,

stating those words,

provides a company for us

when we feel

that our thoughts and musings

may have consigned us to isolation.

This solace

makes him

like our Anam Cara

from afar.

Though afar

his words

convey his presence to us

with great immediacy.

In that thin place

between memory and the beyond,

John is present to us still.

That worthy wordsmith,

is helping at the forge

of our delicate souls.

Simon C.J. Falk 2 December 2013.

For some of us John O’Donohue has been a great inspiration.  He was probably best known for his books ‘Anam Cara’ and ‘Eternal Echoes’.   Irishman, Poet, philosophical-theologian, former priest, he had a way with words that continues to enchant his readers and hearers.  The words above scarcely scratch the surface of describing him. But they attempt to at least point to his influence.  More information about John and his writings can be found at and his talks at Britain’s ‘Green Belt Festival’ can be found at






In the puddle

Tell a story.


On the tree-line

Blacken the view.

Once there were trees,

Now blackened silhouettes

Stand on a hill.


Came right through here.


Were mustered.


In the ute

Drove them too.


Brought some rain,

Slowed the flames.


In the puddle

Hold the story

Of that day.

Simon C.J. Falk           6 December 2013

Not far from where I currently live a fire raged during this week.  The “Smith’s Lane” fire burnt a swathe of grassland and scrubby hills between Springdale and Stockinbingal.  Properties were damaged, with homes and lives at risk.  The free-verse above attempts to put us into the story of what happened.  Hopefully it aids our understanding of what some families both had to endure and are still to recover from.


A Pope Francis Ethic?

‘Religious Police’

have me mending my ways.

There’s nothing like rattan [cane]

For helping one praise.

I’m halfway to heaven;

with God I’ve made peace.

He tells me hell’s full of

‘Religious Police’.

Geoff Page, ‘Religious Police’ in Cloudy Nouns, (2012: 54-55)

Excerpts from Geoff Page’s poem ‘Religious Police’ provide a handy preamble to this post on Pope Francis.  As a Catholic I find Pope Francis refreshing. What follows is an impression of his life and recent interview with Jesuit media. It does not reflect official views.  It was written some weeks ago, but, time… well… it gets away.



by the man



and person

Who speaks

with actions

as much

as with words.


some were

By his reportedly

shift in emphasis

of the ‘big ticket’

moral slogans.



secure within their


need to hear

the words



as if

pencilling places

in a pre-packed profile


convention commands

a Pope must do.

But Francis,

surprised us again!

Is he really


from the ‘done thing’?

Or is he inviting,

coaxing us,

to ponder why

we do or say

what we do?

Might he be drawing us

to delve deeper?

To dive the depths

of the waters

of our baptismal faith,

to come to know

the wellspring,

Christ himself,

and why his actions,

and words

mean that we

speak and live

in a certain way.

Is he training us

to stand aside

from our supposed role,


sentinels safeguarding

systems of statutes?

Away from being

intense inquisitors,

to be a cheerful charitable.

That we may be people

living like persons

who follow a

personal God

who loved us first,

and then,

called us

to live

in that love,

sharing it with others.

We are not

people of a book,


as Bible and Catechism may be.

They are not the living God,

but commentaries

and pointers,

helping us to enter

into the conversation,

with God whom they describe.

There comes a time,

when just knowing about God

falls away.

And then,

we must meet

with God.

God shown to us

in witnesses,

like Pope Francis,

who invite us

to also encounter

God for ourselves,

that we too

may then


be witnesses.

23 September 2013.

Eden Rain


Snug Cove in Eden, NSW (pictured above) provides a bountiful vista in any weather.  The following free verse was written after I’d walked in fine rain along Eden’s Aslings beach during the last drought.



in the moment

of Eden rain.


The drops fell;


through the dryness

of the dusty air.


it brought;

People took notice;

perplexed, disbelieving at first,


delightfully convinced

of the steady wetness

falling upon them.

Gift from the sky,

Salve in our chapped land.

The wetness

on the lips,

and the damp-dust aroma

filled nostrils and lungs

with not only

the wetness

but with vitality.


in the moment

of Eden rain;

I walked through

like a fish in a pond

enfolded in bounty.







Than the breathing


Or out



Mine own breath

The Lord is

Is there

In the stillness.

Deep inside

Near my heart

Under my lungs

The lifeblood


The breath

Come from his.


Be still


That he is

Is nearer


Always within.

Turn not aside

To pace

And frenetic activity.


Look within

God is there

In the stillness.


This is a recent free verse from a time of retreat I had at Jamberoo Abbey ( ).  It is a thank you in response to a time of prayer in Christian Meditation.

O’Brien’s Car


The years rolled on as he dropped the clutch,

And hopped the roads of Gundagai;

Many miles and years have gone,

As he toiled ‘neath southern sky.


His Telstar now sits idle there,

Under the carport tall;

At times, these days, it’s hard to bear,

His gentle, but plaintive call.


He’s saddened now, as its wheels don’t flow,

His independence lies still on the stones;

The pain within, only he can know,

As he feels it in aging bones.


A passenger now, he may well be,

As it seems his driving days may be done;

We only hope that he can see,

He’s still a valued one.


He may not drive in coat and beret,

Or race other cars at the lights;

But I do hope he can see today,

He’s still joy for many of our nights.


As he struggles in his grief,

And walks away his sorrow;

We look on in hope and belief,

That he’ll smile with us tomorrow.


Goulburn, NSW, 22 September 2003

The late Fr John O’Brien originally hailed from Dublin, Ireland. Having studied at ‘All Hallows’ he came to Australia in the late 1940s.  Small in stature, but grand on wit, John knew the dark nights and days of depression too.  This poem was written after he had to hand his driver’s licence in.   People hate letting go and priests are just like anyone else in that regard.  We all struggle to adjust to changes in our lives.  May John rest in peace.

Blog beginnings

Thus far
I have
in writing
a blog
in cyberspace.
So many others
populated pages
and news feeds
and inboxes.
something in me
wanted to post
poems and verses
for others to share
in love
of poetry
and subjects
and people
we may care
It is hoped
that this space
may help us
to stop
to ponder
to still ourselves.
Just a few minutes
threads together
in the fabric
of our lives.
So here it is!
Blog number
More words
in verses
May follow.

Simon C.J. Falk

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