“I love mountains. I feel that mountains are huge contemplatives. They are there and they are in the presence up to their necks and they are still in it and with it and within it. One of the lovely ways to pray is to take your body out into the landscape and to be still in it.
Your body is made out of clay, so your body is actually a miniature landscape that has got up from under the earth and is now walking on the normal landscape. If you go out for several hours into a place that is wild, your mind begins to slow down, down, down. What is happening is that the clay of your body is retrieving its own sense of sisterhood with the great clay of the landscape.
Water in a landscape is a fascinating thing as well. I often think that water is the tears of the earth’s joy and sadness. Every kind of water in a landscape has a different kind of tonality and a different kind of presence to it. You think of the stillness of a well, of the energy of a stream, of the totality of the ocean or the singularity and memory of a river. I also think that trees are incredible presences. There is incredible symmetry in a tree, between its inner life and its outer life, between its rooted memory and its external active presence. A tree grows up and grows down at once and produces enough branches to incarnate its wild divinity. It doesn’t limit itself—it reaches for the sky and it reaches for the source, all in one seamless kind of movement. So I think landscape is an incredible, mystical teacher, and when you begin to tune into its sacred presence, something shifts inside you…
It is always enfolded in the presence. It is a high work of imagination, because there is no repetition in a landscape. Every stone, every tree, every field is a different place. When your eye begins to become attentive to this panorama of differentiation, then you realize what a privilege it is to actually be here”.
John Donohue, “Walking in Wonder” in conversation with John Quinn.