Several years ago someone gave me a copy of the poem “The Invitation”, by Oriah, and it resonated deeply with me. Last summer when I was browsing at a used bookstore and found an entire book by Oriah titled The Invitation, I did not hesitate to buy it. The book is an expansion on the poem, with each chapter addressing one phrase of it. The poem and the book are about being intimate, honest, and deeply authentic with ourselves, others, and the entire world around us. I recommend reading the entire poem on Oriah’s website; it begins with the following line:
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
Oriah’s writing in the book is beautiful. She intermingles stories about herself with questions asked directly to the reader with her thoughts on how and why we should live authentically. She concludes each chapter with a direct request to the reader to tell her something, giving an intimate and personal feel to her writing. Reading the book is an intense experience, as it will make you think deeply about yourself and the world, but it is well worth it.
There is little more I can write; it is a beautiful book and I highly recommend it. Here are a few quotes from it:
Often, we are afraid that if we touch our pain we will drown in it. We fear that once we’ve opened our hearts to wounded parts of ourselves or the world, we will be unable to function normally, because we will be so overwhelmed with grief that all that is good in life will be inaccessible to us. These fears pull us away from the one thing that can unfold the meaning in our sorrow or simply make it bearable to live with it: intimacy — being fully with ourselves, another, and the world.
Tell me about a joy in your life that came unexpectedly, a moment that you did not even know you were waiting for, that caught you off guard and made you smile.
Tell me, can you see beauty? Can you let it renew your commitment to life, every day? I don’t want to wait for death to be near to receive the beauty in my life. I want to be awed every day by the truth — pretty or painful — and let it open me to the beauty that surrounds me and draws me deeper and deeper into my own life.