A poet meets a local farmer in an art gallery in the west of Ireland. Once a year, the farmer, who lives on the shores of Loch Corrib, visits the gallery. The gallery owner introduces the two men. The poet points out the intricacies and hidden symbolism of the paintings as the farmer listens intently. When the poet finishes, the farmer thanks him and tells him he has a wonderful eye, which is a special gift. In return, the farmer shares a story of his own special gift – Teannalach.
“I live beside the lake and you always hear the ripple of the waters and the sound of wind on the water; everyone hears that. However, on certain summer days when the lake is absolutely still and everything is silent, I can hear how the elements and the surface of the lake make a magic music together.”
A few days later, the farmer’s neighbour comes into the gallery. The owner, recalling the conversation between the poet and the farmer, asks the neighbour what he knows about Teannalach. “Oh yes,” he says “They have that word up there. I’ve never seen it written down, so it’s hard to say what it means. I suppose it means awareness, but in truth it is about seven layers deeper.”
In the story, the gift of Teannalach, is a gift nurtured through daily practice. It’s rare, and also recognized and revered by others. The story, says, O’Donohue, “underlines the hiddenness of beauty, a beauty that dwells between the worlds which cannot be reached with known language or bare senses. It only reveals itself when the mind’s attention is radical and the imagination is finely tuned.”
Story adapted from John O’Donohue’s book, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace.