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looking for david

Nancy is a friend and neighbour (not always synonymous) on Galiano Island. Earlier this year she went on a pilgrimage to Irland and sent this letter:


Rarely have I had such a strong pull to do something out of my ordinary.  I certainly did not think that I would be in Ireland this past summer solstice. There was something about John O’Donohue that called me – when I learned of his death this past January, I searched out his writings, bought his books and finally discovered that his good friend David Whyte, the poet, was hosting a tour of north County Clare. I knew I was to be there.


The trip was a deeply moving experience for me. The group spent time each morning with David who on our first gathering proclaimed to us the theme for this week would be Presence and Absence. Every morning, we met and listened to David read and recite poetry, his work and other poets. Each afternoon, satiated with poetry and personal reflection, we walked the limestone hills of the Burren. Every now and then, we would stop and gather around David as he spoke to us of the history of the landscape, the spirituality of the land, the strength of the Celtic immagination and of course, of his friend and brother on life’s journey, John O’Donohue.


At the end of eight days, I came away full to the brim. I have been writing poetry, painting and reflecting on the joy of friendship and the pain of loss. This poem sums up my journey.


Walk with the Poet

(for David, Ireland 2008)


Walk with the poet

To Saint Patrick’s ancient well

find nourishment

In the stillness of solstice eve.

Walk with the poet

Up unsteady steps of Slieve Elva

find balance

In the limestone meadows.


Walk with the poet

To the sacred bowl

Sit in silence

find your heart fill near to breaking.


Walk with the poet

Atop the sacred mounds

Vulnerable in the elements

find your soul in the wind.


Walk with the poet

Yet linger below

A generous gift to yourself

find your voice in the words.


Walk with the poet

See grief in the lines of his face

Loss shared lessens nothing

Beckons us all to new ground.


Walk with the poet

To the edge of your life

Exhilarate in the discovery

To find yourself full.


Nancy McPhee, MA, describes herself as “sensitive, caring, funny, brave, confident, and generous. Other people call me loyal, reliable, enthusiastic–one friend says I am a cowgirl another that I am a maven! I am an educator, live on an island, love my dogs and chickens as well as the rural life.” [What’s this, Nancy, a dating service?]



2 responses »

  1. Pingback: ezineaerticles » Blog Archive » looking for david

  2. Nancy –
    By following the call of your heart, you are an inspiration. I enjoyed reading about your experience, and thank you for sharing it.


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