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Quotations 2014

April 24, 2014

Q03We didn’t deal the deck down here, we just play the cards. John Updike

 The task of the first half of life is to create a proper container for one’s life. . . The task of the second half of life is to find the actual contents that this container was meant to hold and deliver. Richard Rohr

Jung said that some problems are fundamentally unsolvable but they are also outgrowable. He also said that the goal of a young person becomes neurotic if it is still being pursued in the second half of life.

The first half of life is a raft, not the shore.

Desmond Tutu said that we are only light bulbs and our task is to remain screwed in.

Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces. Gerard Manley Hopkins Kingfisher poem

In the first half of life we might climb a ladder only to find, in the second half, that it is against the wrong wall.

Scott Peck said that the spiritually lazy stay on the same path.

Dalai Lama: learn rules well so that you know how to break them.

God wanted to give human beings their fullness right from the beginning but they were incapable of receiving it, because they were still little children Irenaus Against heresies

It is the whole of nature, extending from the beginning to the end, that constitutes the one image of God Who Is Gregory of Nyssa On The Creation of Man

“You raved and you bitched when you came home about the stupidity of audiences. The goddam ‘unskilled laughter’ coming from the fifth row. And that’s right, that’s right — God knows it’s depressing. I’m not saying it isn’t. But that’s none of your business, really. That’s none of your business, Franny. An artist’s only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else’s.” J. D. Salinger

Nothing less will shake a man — or at any rate a man like me — out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself

And: perhaps certain exceptional people are subjected to the most graphic extremes of suffering precisely because they are able to detach themselves and transform this suffering into something higher, to extract a deeper meaning from it, a larger experience of faith and love than would ordinarily be possible. Those who suffer greatly can be perfect examples for the rest of us with our more common­place suffering, that such faith and love are possible, not only in spite of the harshness of life, but in a sense through the harshness of life. Obviously, this kind of idea can be badly misapplied and abused. There have been plenty of fanatics over the years who have inflicted appalling tortures on themselves in an effort to ‘mortify the flesh’, expiate sins, or reach God. And it would generally not be useful to a person suffering from a terrible disease or disaster nowadays to be told that they should experience this suffering as a gift. Yet suffering can be literally both a gift and an affliction. As with any paradox, this sounds patently absurd in the abstract; it can only be experiences directly, grasped experientially. C. S. Lewis

I believe I have been resistant to God’s leadings in my life and that tricks have been a crucial part of ‘waking me up’ to a truth beyond my own making. Pink Dandelion

 Vocation is not a word much used in Quaker writing. Neither ‘vocation’ nor ‘calling’ appear in the index of Quaker faith & practice, the book of discipline of Britain Yearly Meeting. Friends heed `promptings’, follow `leadings’, receive ‘guidance’, and act under `concern’, but rarely do we express such motivations as vocational. Why is this? Perhaps we take for granted Luther’s assertions that true faith in God is to be worked out in the difficult circumstances.

Our eldest, who was 82, stayed silent for a while, and finally said: ‘Well, I can’t talk about my prayer. Either I’m praying all the time or I’m not praying at all!’ Many older people may find comfort in that remark: I certainly do, and more so as the years slip past…. Life is a relationship: God is the big partner and we’re the small ones. God has a project for us: to make us grow in love. When we’re starting out on this relationship, we spend time getting to know him, his values, his intentions for us. ….. At this stage, prayer times have a clarity about them: we want to have the mind and heart of Christ Jesus: we see this goal out ahead and we inch toward it. But gradually there develops a harmony, a closeness between what we are and what God wants us to be. So then things get a bit blurred. It’s one thing to see the sea from a mountain-top, and quite another experience to be swimming in it….. The question is not:’Am I a person of great prayer?’ You’re probably not, if you think that praying means long periods of undivided concentration on God. Instead, the issue is: are you trying to be more loving?

God is active in our world, shaping and reshaping it endlessly in response to our choices. When our choices are flawed, God weaves them into a new design in his tapestry. This is what we mean by divine Providence…. It helps if we appreciate that God’s design for the world is not rigid but flexible; it is more like a football manager’s game-plan than an architect’s blueprint. It’s an open project…. Easter celebrates how God reverses the catastrophe we create; God brings to birth a new and totally unpredictable beauty and harmony, but not without great cost. God cares infinitely about us and never abandons our world. God’s dream works out every so slowly through history, but God will get us home in the end….Much of what you did may not bear fruit in your lifetime. So it was for Jesus: he died without seeing the fruit of his efforts. Only at the end of history will you see the marvellous outcome of your good deeds, your sincere prayer, your generous sacrifices. Don’t grow tired of doing good, for in due time you will reap a rich harvest (see Galatians 6:9). To Grow in Love: A Spirituality of Ageing – Brian Grogan

our need is not so much to solve as to deepen the mysteries of faith. Christian people above all should know the Truth is not the same as erasing ambiguity Robert Runcie

 God is at home; it is we who have gone for a walk. Eckhart

the spiritual life involves both the taming of self-will and the clarifying of God’s will for our lives Resseguie

 Prayer isn’t about bombarding God with our wish lists or demands, our successes or failings. Prayer at its truest is waiting on God and discovering the deep silent music of God’s grace stirring in our hearts.

All those who suffer in the world do so because of their desire for their own happiness. All those happy in the world are so because of their desire for the happiness of others. Santideva

 If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction Dietrich Bonhoeffeur

 The translators have flattened out differences in the Hebrew where God is singular and alone in one verse and dual or plural in another. Do they not see that the text is playful because God is beyond our imagination? And that if we are in God’s image then we have more possibilities than those laid down for us by traditional society and religion? Walter Brueggemann….points out, the Hebrew Bible constantly challenges readers. It is material that insists on being taken seriously, and it refuses to be reduced or domesticated into a settled coherence. This refusal may not be simply a literary one but a theological one, pertaining to its central Subject. The restless character of the text that refuses excessive closure . . . is reflective of the One who is its main Character, who also refuses tameness and systematization.

This is faithful to Judaism: that Jewish tradition since antiquity has refused ‘to read the Torah as if it meant and has always meant only one thing’. From the perspective of Orthodox Judaism, all verses in the Pentateuch are pregnant with multiple meanings, ‘some on the surface, others more deeply hidden, and some yet unborn’. In addition, asking questions is a hallmark of Jewish spirituality. This is so much the case that ‘God loves it when we ask why’ . Consequently, Greenberg emphasizes that there is no reason for making assumptions in advance about the meaning of the Levitical verses. Renato Lings

When you’ve fished enough people out of the river, it’s time to take a walk upstream and see who’s pushing them in.Desmond Tutu

One day abba Arsenius consulted an old Egyptian monk about his thoughts. Someone noticed this and said to him, ‘Abba Arsenius, how is it that you, with such a good Latin and Greek education, ask this peasant about your thoughts?’ He replied, ‘I have indeed been taught Latin and Greek but I do not even know the alphabet of this peasant’.

If you ‘really believe you are forgiven’; then, if what you want to do is really because of love of personal comfort and ease, or out of a desire, however secret, for praise and the good opinion of others, it comes from self-love; and if what we want to do proceeds out of bitterness and desire to belittle others, then it comes from the devil and must be firmly rejected Guigo of the Chartreuse

 So many think of vocation as always taking on something extra, so it is good to be reminded that Ignatius said: We are created to praise, reverence and serve God our Lord, and by this means save our soul. All the other things on the face of the earth are created for us, that they may help us in pursuing the end for which we are created. From this it follows that we are to use them as much as they help us on to our end, and ought to rid ourselves of them so far as they hinder us in that aim.

The young Christians who grapple with the question of vocation urgently need guidance from experienced, praying and spiritually reflective persons, now more than ever in the history of the Church, since the whole atmosphere of the Church is contaminated by theologically unreflective short-winded and often downright “watered-down” catchwords and ideologies. It would desirable if those in positions of responsibility from all states – priests religious, lay – would come together in order further to clarify theologically the problems of vocation today and together seek paths towards workable solutions. Sr. Gill Goulding

 Clement Attlee said that “If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim. A right established by law, such as that to an old-age pension, is less galling than an allowance made by a rich man to a poor man, dependent on his view of the recipient’s character, and terminable at his caprice.”

An eagle is not disturbed by the traffic: it rises above it
A whale is not disturbed by the hurricane: it dives deeper (quoted by Rose Hudson-Wilkin)

 God’s gift to us is our being, and our gift to God is our becoming. Mark Oakley

 When people today tell us to ‘be realistic’, what they tend to mean is that we should lower our expectations. For the Christian, to be realistic is the opposite. We fear God not because he is frightening or somehow out to get us, but because he is real and we are largely false or in hiding. It is his reality that exposes our artificiality and calls us out of darkness into a transforming relationship of light and life. Ultimately, our faith is not about our faithfulness towards God, but about his passionate fidelity to us Mark Oakley

The seventeenth-century bishop Jeremy Taylor sometimes spoke of the ‘gift of tears’, an important challenge to the embarrassment we can often feel at our own or others’. Likewise, the poet John Donne prays that God will ‘pour new seas into mine eyes’ so that his world might be either drowned or washed. Jesus cried and, in doing so, blesses our tears and confusions and hurt. It may be part of the Christian vocation to help people cry better. Mark Oakley

 Sometimes the light of God’s countenance shines so bright upon us, we see so far into the invisible world, we are so affected with the wonders of the love and goodness of God, that our hearts worship and adore in a language higher than that of words, and we feel transports of devotion which only can be felt.

When the first spark of a desire after God arises in thy soul, cherish it with all thy care, give all thy Heart into it, it is nothing less than a touch of the Divine. William Law

He who claims many friends is as incontinent as water Plutarch

When you are a truly happy Christian , you are also a Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh

 Hell isn’t punishment, it’s training Zen

We see the world not as it is but as we are. The Talmud

The greater part of the treasure is to be found
Throughout your kingdom, untouched, underground;
The natural resources of the nation
Beyond both reckoning and imagination.
But wise men will, when they have studied it,
Place infinite trust in what is infinite. Goethe

Refuse to act on feelings of superiority. Shun slogans. Bear the discomfort of what is unresolved. Listen silently to those who are different from yourself, without anxiety or hurry, and so avoid the strident claims of the fanatic and the self-righteous. Remember that each of us is contained within a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.

Be expectant of the future, in faith and hope, trusting that it will bring gifts beyond anything you could predict or imagine. Jim Cotter

Your sexuality, your creativity, your spirituality sound the same note, but in different oc­taves. We are familiar with the chords produced by two people in heterosexual relationships, each contributing his or her note. Perhaps lesbian and gay people are producing , sounds which are experienced as discordant by so-called `normal’ ears, but that in the melodies of a very varied humanity, new tunes are being heard, however strange they may sound at first. Jim Cotter

blessed snow,
comes out of the sky
like bleached flies.
The ground is no longer naked.
The ground has on its clothes.
The trees poke out of sheets
and each branch wears the sock of God. Anne Sexton

 Lay people, whose particular vocation places them in the midst of the world and in charge of the most varied temporal tasks, must for this very reason exercise a very special form of evangelization. Their primary and immediate task is not to establish and develop the ecclesial community—this is the specific role of the pastors—but to put to use every Christian evangelical possibility latent but already present and active in the affairs of the world. Their own field of evangelizing activity is the vast and complicated world of politics, society and economics, but also the world of culture, of the sciences and the arts, of international life, of the mass media. It also includes other realities which are open to evangelization, such as human love, the family, the education of children and adolescents, professional work, suffering. Pope Paul VI Eangelii nuntiandi

 The psalms are for poor men, or solitary men, or men who suffer: not for liturgical enthusiasts in a comfortable, well-heated choir. Ernesto Cardenal

For the church, right or left, the Christ myth is not dominant. Neither the so-called conservatives nor the so-called pro­gressives are in a period of zeal — each side simply projects its own massive shadow on the other. When we are filled with myth and story, we do not worry about what side we are on. A Grail experience is just too alive for inter-group fight­ing and turf battles, for church politics in all its everyday pettiness. Richard Rohr

Masculinity’s wound is also its gift: The very thing that men are so often criticized for — lack of feeling — is sometimes their unique gift. Detachment is necessary for sound discernment and healthy attachment.…… It causes one to wonder how many of our marriages are co-dependent. Are these two people who have chosen to give themselves to one another, or two people who don’t have a hint of who they are I apart from one another? Perhaps keeping one another back from the journey? Identity and boundaries precede fruitful love relationships….. Quest for the Grail – Richard Rohr

we are restless all our lives….. We’re always searching for the other half and finding it symbolized here and there and falling in love with it; we’re always falling in love with what we are not yet. Wherever it is imaged, there is a part of our souls. We go around grab­bing: there! there! I want this and I want that, I want her, I – want him, this will give me the other part of my soul. Quest for the Grail – Richard Rohr

On the need to be orthodox while yet doubting: But I still have to teach them because I still know they’re the truth. As Jeremiah says, it burns within us (Jeremiah 20:9). We know it’s the truth, even though we can never live up to it. Henceforward the only sin would be to deny that it is the truth. Trying to live up to it is the rest of the Grail journey. Quest for the Grail – Richard Rohr

2 Cor 4 earthen vessels: A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a yoke he carried across his shoulders. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a long time, this went on daily, with the water bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his master’s house. The cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection, and miserable that it was able to carry only half a load of water. One day it spoke to the water bearer by the stream. “I am ashamed and I want to apologize to you.”

“Why?” asked the water bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”

“I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house.”

The water bearer replied, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” And as they went up the hill, the cracked pot noticed the sun warming the beautiful flowers on the side of the path. This cheered the pot some, but he still felt bad about being broken.

The water bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I used it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For years now I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

Pope Francis: ‘Those who today always look for disciplinarian solutions, those who long for an exaggerated doctrinal “security”, those who stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists — they have a static and inward-directed view of things. In this way, faith becomes an ideology among other ideologies.’ This is not a mild correction to the direction of the Church. It is a blunt, brutal rebuke.”

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all Aristotle

“When ancient Greeks had a thought, it occurred to them as a god or goddess giving an order. Apollo was telling them to be brave. Athena was telling them to fall in love. Now people hear a commercial for sour cream potato chips and rush out to buy them, but now they call this free will.” –Chuck Palahniuk (Lullaby)

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” Ernest Hemingway (The Garden of Eden)

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark. In the hopeless swamps of the not quite, the not yet, and the not at all, do not let the hero in your soul perish and leave only frustration for the life you deserved, but never have been able to reach. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.” Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged)

“Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door.” Emily Dickinson, “Part Two: Nature”

“Too many of us are hung up on what we don’t have, can’t have, or won’t ever have. We spend too much energy being down, when we could use that same energy – if not less of it – doing, or at least trying to do, some of the things we really want to do.” Terry McMillan

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” Oscar Wilde, “The Soul of Man Under Socialism”

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” Desmond Tutu

“The unfed mind devours itself.” Gore Vidal

“And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.” John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath)

“To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man’s life.” T.S. Eliot (The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism)

“Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.” Cornelia Funke

Be faithful to that which exists within yourself.

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.
It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not.

It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves.
Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. Andre Gide

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting. e. e. cummings

Reading is so much more than the act of moving from page to page. It’s the exploration of new worlds; the pursuit of adventure; the forging of friendships; the breaking of hearts; and the chance to begin to live through a new story each time the first sentence is devoured. Hatchet Books

‘All religions will pass, but this will remain: simply sitting in a chair and looking in the distance.’? V.V. Rozanov

‘Religion to me has always been the wound not the bandage.’ Dennis Potter

‘Things known are in the knower according to the mode of the knower.’ Thomas Aquinas

`The colour of water is that of its container’ fourteenth century Sufi Al-Junayd

“we should use the sun as a moral example. Rather than living frightened and cautious lives, we should burn out extravagantly, giving warmth and joy to others. There is something in the universe that calls us to reck­lessness and extravagance.” Don Cupitt

‘Some truths are not worth the pain they cause. Others might be necessary for the pain they can prevent.’ Herbert & Irene Rubin, Qualitative Interviewing. The Art of Hearing Data

To study, pray and question! Just look at the Book of Acts where it describes the Christians who lived in the city of Berea: “Now the Berean people were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:110).

That’s right – even the teaching that came from Paul himself was something they put to the test. They questioned it. They studied the Scriptures “to see if it was true”. And as a result the Book of Acts says that behaviour made them “of more noble character“. It didn’t make them ‘less spiritual’ as they questioned and studied. Vicky Beeching

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. Solzhenitsyn

Assholes can be recognised by the shit coming out of them.

“I will put up with this church until it becomes a better church and it must put up with me until I become a better person.” Erasmus

“When I wake up in the morning, I can’t decide whether to enjoy the world or improve the world; that makes it difficult to plan the day.” E. B. White

“People of the Book risk putting the book above people.” Arun Gandhi

“The world for which you have been so carefully prepared is being taken away from you,” he said, “by the grace of God.” Walter Brueggemann

If I developed a complaint dur­ing my time in the wilderness, it was that Mother Church lav­ished so much more attention on those at the center than on those at the edge. Barbara Brown Taylor

Holy Communion is a medicine for sinners not a reward for sanctity Pope Francis

spiritual direction begins when people are helped to walk more slowly, talk more slowly and eat more slowly Francis de Sales

Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away George Eliot

There may be no I in team but there are 5 in individual brilliance

the Creator …..loves us, brings us into being and wants us to be more than we know we are. James Alison

 violence only has a course marked out for it by God’s command, such that its effects redound to the glory of the truth which it is attacking, while truth subsists eternally, and triumphs in the end over its enemies. Because it is as eternal and powerful as God himself. Pascal


in the middle of that essay (On Liberty.), in the chapter “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion,” Mill makes a compelling point. He shows, in effect, that all of us need to earn the right to have our opinions, and we do that by considering very carefully, sympathetically, and in the best possible light what reasonable people who disagree with us have to say.

 “Ecstasy was once the most intense pleasure. Then Wagner. Then Poulet de Bresse. Now it’s a cancelled meeting.” The Rev Richard Coles, quoted in The Times

I create in order not to cry. Paul Klee

 Death cannot take what has been written in love Radio 4 Something understood

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. Plato

John the Baptist: challenged people to set new priorities, not because they would be con­demned, but because he did not want them to miss the love that God was offering them. … land he wakes me up again to the reality that I am not in charge of anyone’s life…. John’s voice is not easily heard or understood in Advent. II am confident that the companies that print Christmas cards would not remain in business if John the Baptist were the only image of Christmas preparation. In the center of cultural expec­tations of what Christmas is supposed to be, John does not rank among the cozy, comfortable images of the season. However, John calls us back to the authentic reasons why Jesus was once born in our midst and continues his saving work even in our day. .. I invite you to consider prayerfully the people that knock on your door and heart asking you for friendship and a helping hand. I am not asking you to solve every problem or to discover a solu­tion for every need. Here, ponder in prayer how you open your­self to others on the journey to God. R. Raab

Isaac, Bishop of Nineveh warns against hierarchies of progress in prayer: Intensity of stirrings in prayer is not an exalted part of pure prayer … it belongs only to the second or third rank … What is the most pre­cious and the principal characteristic in pure prayer is the brevity and smallness of any stirrings, and the fact that the mind simply gazes as though in wonder during this diminution of active prayer. From this, one of two things occurs to the mind in connection with that brief stir­ring which wells up in it; either it withdraws into silence, as a result of the overpowering might of the knowledge which the intellect has received in a particular verse; or it is held in delight at that point at which it was aiming during the prayer when it was stirred, and the heart cultivates it with an insatiable yearning of love. These are the principal characteristics of pure prayer.

Valerian…. observed that ‘To speak and to remain silent, each is a perfection. The case of each consists in holding to the proper measure of words. Silence is great and speech is great, but the wise man sets a measure upon them both.’

St Jerome, who had insisted that it was just as arduous and as productive of spiritual growth to read a book as it was to starve in the desert or to sit atop a pillar

Remember that Triumph is just a little “umph” added to “try.

God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

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