Reflecting on a recent journey to the retreat house, after a visit to family. On the plane ride, I was reading John O’Donahue’s Anum Cara a book to be highly recommended if you have any interest in Celtic Wisdom or spirituality. I would go as far as to say it is the best short read on the topic to date.

In Anam Cara, which means soul friend, Donahue talks of the journey. Specifically the journey of our lives and the spiritual journey that accompanies us. He makes the point that we should not consider the journey for its length but rather the depth. This is an essential point that is often overlooked.

Because, in the modern world, we are always looking for the “quick fix” in the latest fad, we often look for things that will give us some new and exciting experiences we can add to our journey. The rise of spas, yoga, spiritual guides, and many books and blogs all contribute to this trend. It is almost as if we are trying to cram our spiritual life to beef up our resume or fill in all the blanks in that spiritual journey.

If we consider our time here a blip on the radar in eternity, we may come to a different conclusion. Our soul is eternal, our earthly body it is how we move it (the soul) around on the earthly journey. So in the context of eternity, a concept for us all hard to grasp, our time here is very limited in the scope of things.

So focusing on, and packing out the time of the earthly journey is much less important than the depth of the journey. When we meet someone with a profound presence, we see them differently than others. We notice something different about this person, the holiness within them spills out into the room and the atmosphere. We are affected by the peace of Christ which surrounds them and now, by our presence, us as well.

Perhaps we should not consider our journey as a series of experiences and experiments with a “bucket list” mentality of trying to cram it all in, but rather one of going within … to that interior space where our relationship with God will be deepened. Enjoining ourselves to His love while we are here, with little regard for what’s in it for us. Only offering up a humble servant willing to listen and sit in His presence.

The roads to deepening faith are manifold; we do need to try the fruits of the banquet, which are available to us but also remember that the goal is to be with the presence.

For it is the depth of our spiritual journey that will ultimately help the journey become meaningful, not shallow. This the the holy longing we want from all our relationships.

So let us go, together … into the deep.


The gentle touch,

A knowing glance,

It was meaningful.

A relationship of instants,

An understanding of mystery,

It was meaningful.

Eyes locked for an extended moment,

Spoke the volumes of the unsaid.

More than meaningful.

Memories are not a tape to be rewound,

But a presence relived.

Eternally; and soaked in love.

Reflection, poem and image copyright Michael J. Cunningham 2023

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2 thoughts on “Noticing our Spiritual Journeys

    1. Thank you Tim, John’s work is still very relevant today. We are running a retreat in early January which will feature his writings.

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