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There are times in life when a person has to rush off in pursuit of hopefulness.

— Jean Giono, afterword to The Man Who Planted Trees


There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him, that in the end, the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.

— J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (p.901)  <link>

The ism’s of the 20th century are not so much a form for labeling or categorizing things but a way to separate us from each other and reality.

— Mark Woodward  <link>

Deism or Pantheism or Both?

If you focus on God the Father only, you tend towards, this is wrong, you don’t have to get there, but the danger is deism. He is so transcendent and perfect and remote that the distance is infinite. If you focus on the Holy Spirit only, the danger is pantheism. He is so intimate, He is so much you that He is almost you. So to start with Christ is to get both. Both the distance and the intimacy because he is the Son of the Father and he is the center of the Spirit.

— Peter Kreeft, from lecture on C.S. Lewis’s “Till We Have Faces”  <link>

Just Enough Light

Pascal says, “God gives us just enough light so that those who really want to find him can, but not so much light that those who don’t really want to find him don’t have to.” So what decides your salvation is not how smart you are, but your heart, your love. Lovers will see, others won’t.

— Peter Kreeft, from lecture on C.S. Lewis’s “Till We Have Faces”  <link>

If there were no obscurity, man would not feel his corruption; if there were no light, man could not hope for a cure.

— Blaise Pascal, Pensées  <link>

God wishes to move the will rather than the mind. Perfect clarity would help the mind and harm the will.

— Blaise Pascal, Pensées  <link>

Reason’s last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which are beyond it.

— Blaise Pascal, Pensées  <link>

I see little evidence that great learning or correct doctrine produces Christ-like people.

— Michael Spencer [via]  <link>

Remember that Jesus was a teacher, but he never dismissed class. Life was his classroom, because he refused to isolate truth into compartments. He had no intention of producing a disciple who was an expert in theology but useless in a hospital emergency room. He had no plan to allow the specializations we use to excuse ourselves from what it really means to be a Christian. Carrying the Cross and Washing Feet weren’t talks. They were your life.

— Michael Spencer [via]  <link>

We Don’t Know What It Is That We Want

It is very strange that we don’t know what it is that we want. Then why do we think there is anything we want? Because we want it. Why do we think we want it? Because we are unhappy.

Oh, you say that is only because we are poor or stupid or oppressed. No. It is preciously when we are rich and smart and free that we feel this desire the most. It is preciously these peak experiences, those highest moments in your life that you feel most clearly and poignantly the desire for something more. This lovers’ quarrel with the world. This happens not among the poor but among the rich, not among the uneducated but among the educated, not among the insensitive but among the sensitive.

When you see the most remarkable natural beauty or find the most complete human love or reconciliation, it is then when it looks most like a pointing finger, a prophet, an icon from heaven, a suggestion that there is something more. The perfume that you thought was its own end, when you get close to it, seems like the perfume from a beautiful woman who is unattainable, a goddess.

Maybe it is much clearer if you put it negatively. Nothing in this world is totally satisfactory. We are discontent the more self-aware we are.

— Peter Kreeft, from lecture on “Desire” (The innate hunger for total joy)  <link>

The Premise of Love

If you have ever loved truly someone in an unselfish way, then your heart has developed an eye that perceives the intrinsic value of the beloved. Most of the time people are just objects of use or respect or admiration. They give us pleasure and their absence would give us pain, but we are not outraged by their death because it does not affect us that deeply. And we take death for granted.

But when someone close to us dies, we are outraged and we have often an argument with God. “God, how could you do this?” “Well, it’s just like everybody else…” “Yeah but…” It looks different. Why? Because your identity is so invested in that person that is as if God killed you and not them. So, if you have that agape love and if that eye in the heart awakes, then you perceive the intrinsic value of the beloved. And then you can use that premise as an argument for immortality.

The kind of thing that a human being is isn’t the kind of thing that could conceivably be just treated like dirty diapers. That is a very weak argument logically. If don’t experience that deep premise through deep love, you’re not going to be moved by that argument at all. But if you do, you are.

— Peter Kreeft, from lecture on “Desire” (The innate hunger for total joy)  <link>

It is better to relieve a hundred impostors—is there be any such—than to suffer one really distressed person to be sent away empty.

— Catherine McAuley  <link>

Personality is the name we give to our little collection of strange habits.

— Author unknown  <link>

Yesterday is ashes, tomorrow is wood. Only today does the fire burn brightly.

— Inuit proverb  <link>

All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.

— Flannery O’Connor  <link>

The seasons move in silence through the changing year. Spring does not come from winter; it comes from the silence from which winter came.

— Max Picard, The World of Silence  <link>

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.

— Albert Einstein  <link>

A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

— Langston Hughes  <link>

Like Water and Oil

Both water and oil come from the earth. And though they are similar in many ways, they are opposites in their nature and their purpose. One extinguishes fire, the other gives fuel to the fire. Similarly, the world and its treasures are creations of God along with the soul and its thirst for spiritual truth. But if we try to quench the thirst of our soul with the wealth and pride and honors of this world, then it is like trying to extinguish fire with oil. The soul will only find peace and contentment in the One who created it along with its longing. When we turn to the living Master, we receive water that satisfies our soul. This water is a well of spiritual life that springs up deep within us.

— Sundar Singh, Wisdom of the Sadhu: Teachings of Sundar Singh  <link>

A child’s life
is like a piece of paper
on which every passerby
leaves a mark.

— Chinese proverb  <link>

Every Human Heart

The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil. It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person.

— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago  <link>

Where is the dwelling of God?

“Where is the dwelling of God?” This was the question with which the Rabbi of Kotzk surprised a number of learned men who happened to be visiting him. They laughed at him: “What a thing to ask! Is not the whole world full of his glory?” Then he answered his own question: “God dwells wherever people let him in.”

— Martin Buber, The Way of Man  <link>

Let go, and respond to the immediate needs around you. Don’t get caught in some false perception of yourself. There will always be another person more gifted than you. And don’t perceive your position as important, but be ready to serve at any moment. If you can let go of who you think you are, you will become free - ready to love others. If you learn to see your impermanence, you will be able to live for the moment and not miss opportunities to love by pushing things into the future.

— Thich Nhat Hanh  <link>

Only Then

A rabbi asked his students, “When is it at dawn that one can tell the light from the darkness?”

One student replied, “When I can tell a goat from a donkey.”

“No,” answered the rabbi.

Another said, “When I can tell a palm tree from a fig.”

“No,” answered the rabbi again.

“Well, then what is the answer?” his students pressed him.

“Only when you look into the face of every man and every woman and see your brother and your sister,” said the rabbi. “Only then have you seen the light. All else is still darkness.”

— Hasidic wisdom  <link>

Surrender and Obedience

Humanly speaking, it is possible to understand the Sermon on the Mount in a thousand different ways. But Jesus knows only one possibility: simple surrender and obedience—not interpreting or applying it, but doing and obeying it. That is the only way to hear his words. He does not mean for us to discuss it as an ideal. He really means for us to get on with it.

— Dietrich Bonhoeffer  <link>

In God’s Hands — Why Worry?

The thought that the affairs of the world, like those of the stars, are in God’s hands—and therefore in good hands—apart from being actually true, is something that should give great satisfaction to anyone who looks to the future with hope. It should be the source of faith, joyful hope, and, above all, of deep peace. What have I to fear if everything is guided and sustained by God? Why get so worried, as if the world were in the hands of me and my fellow men? And yet it is so difficult to hold onto faith…

— Carlo Carretto, Letters from the Desert  <link>

A Matter of Questioning and Struggle

We too often forget that faith is a matter of questioning and struggle before it becomes one of certitude and peace. You have to doubt and reject everything else in order to believe firmly in Christ, and after you have begun to believe, your faith itself must be tested and purified. Christianity is not merely a set of forgone conclusions. Faith tends to be defeated by the burning presence of God in mystery, and seeks refuge from him, flying to comfortable social forms and safe convictions in which purification is no longer an inner battle but a matter of outward gesture.

— Thomas Merton  <link>

A Fight Between Two Wolves

A Cherokee elder sitting with his grandchildren told them, “In every life there is a terrible fight—a fight between two wolves. One is evil: he is fear, anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, and deceit. The other is good: joy, serenity, humility, confidence, generosity, truth, gentleness, and compassion.”

A child asked, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”

The elder looked him in the eye. “The one you feed.”

— Cherokee wisdom  <link>

The Question of Why Evil Exists

The question of why evil exists is the same as why there is imperfection, or, in other words, why there is creation at all. We must take it for granted that it could not be otherwise: that creation must be imperfect and gradual. The real question we ought to ask is this: Is such imperfection the final truth; is evil absolute and ultimate? The river has its boundaries, its banks, but is a river all banks? Or are the banks the only important aspect of the river? Do not these obstructions themselves give the water an onward motion? The towing rope binds a boat, but is the bondage its meaning? Does it not at the same time draw the boat forward?

— Rabindranath Tagore  <link>

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

— Philo of Alexandria  <link>

A misprint notice in a Warrenton newspaper: “If you are one of the hundreds of parachuting enthusiasts who bought our book Easy Sky Diving, please make the following correction: On page 8, line 7, the words ‘State Zip Code’ should have read ‘Pull Rip Cord’.”

— original author unknown, from The Lexicon of Stupidity by Ross and Kathryn Petras  <link>

The greatest of all illusions is the illusion of familiarity.

G.K. Chesterton  <link>

Expectations are premeditated resentments.

— Author unknown  <link>

Having a smoking section in a restaurant is like having a peeing section in a swimming pool.

— Author unknown  <link>

If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause and say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.

— Martin Luther King Jr.  <link>

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.

— Meister Eckhart  <link>

In every sin we choose to believe the devil’s lie rather than God’s truth.

— Peter Kreeft  <link>

It is better to suffer evil than to do it.

— Socrates  <link>

Love is that flame that once kindled burns everything, and only the mystery and the journey remain.

— Rumi  <link>

Love, by its very nature, always reaches outward.

— Thomas Keating, Crisis of Faith, Crisis of Love  <link>

Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.

— Romans 12:12  <link>

God Must Have Foreseen

So God must have foreseen all my sins and rebellions against Him, all the trouble I would cause Him, including the hell of Calvary. Yet He chose to create me. (The word foreseen is not perfect in this context, for it seems to put God into time. But it helps to get across the point.)

God knew that I would be like Adam and Peter and Pilate, and even Judas. He knew that my sin would necessitate His crucifixion if His love was to be successful in winning my soul. In the act of creation He saw the Cross. Yet, knowing the infinite price to Himself, He still chose to create me. He loved me despite the nails I put into His own body. He prayed for me from the Cross and said, “Father, forgive them.” (Luke 23:24) even as I crucified Him. What crazy love is this? It is love itself. It is love of the Author who chose to create a story with His own hellish agony in it, so that He could create a story with my heavenly joy in it.

— Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You  <link>

God refuses to be known except by love.

— St. John of the Cross  <link>

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

— Socrates  <link>

What if the hokey-pokey is what it’s all about?

— Author unknown  <link>

What was in that candle’s light
     that opened and consumed me so quickly?
Come back, my friend.
The form of our love is not a created form.
Nothing can help me but that beauty.
There was a dawn I remember when my soul
     heard something from your soul.
I drank water from your spring,
     and felt the current take me.

— Rumi  <link>

A rose’s rarest essence lives in the thorn.

— Rumi  <link>

It all adds up to one thing: peace, silence, solitude.
The world and its noise are out of sight and far away.
Forest and field, sun and wind and sky, earth and water—
all speak the same silent language.

— Thomas Merton  <link>

There is no need to create silence
     for it is already there.
It is simply a matter of letting it rise up
     from within us.
Once we have heard this silence
     we thirst to find it again.

— A Carthusian, The Wound of Love  <link>

Rejection imprisons, but love and understanding nurture.

— Author unknown  <link>

Sinful man really hopes when he no longer has anything of his own.

— Johannes Baptist Metz, Poverty of Spirit  <link>

It is our part to seek,
His to grant what we ask;
ours to make a beginning,
His to bring it to completion;
ours to offer what we can,
His to finish what we cannot.

— St. Jerome  <link>

You need seek God neither below or above. He is no farther away than the door of the heart.

— Meister Eckhart  <link>

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

— Marcel Proust  <link>

The journey into the inner self is not just the important one, it is the only one. We need to listen to the sound beyond the silence.

— William Butler Yeats  <link>

Seek not to understand so that you may believe, but believe so that you may understand.

— St. Augustine  <link>

The Father uttered One Word;
that word is his Son,
and He utters Him forever in everlasting silence;
and in silence the soul has to hear it.

— St. John of the Cross  <link>

The lifetime assigned to us is the short moment in which what is meant to be comes to be.

— Karl Rahner  <link>

You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.

—Anne Lamott  <link>

The Four Stages of Life

1. You believe in Santa Clause.
2. You don’t believe in Santa Clause.
3. You are Santa Clause.
4. You look like Santa Clause.

— Author unknown  <link>

Most men, when at last they see their desire
Fall to repentance—all have that chance.

— Charles Williams, Judgment at Chelmsford  <link>

The famous saying ‘God is love’, it is generally assumed, means that God is like our immediate emotional indulgence, not that the meaning of love ought to have something of the ‘otherness’ and terror of God.

— Charles Williams  <link>

Adam and Eve had what they wanted. That they did not like it when they got it does not alter the fact that they certainly got it.

— Charles Williams, He Came Down From Heaven  <link>

When celebration is the only thing that makes sense, we have begun to understand the sacredness of life and death.

— Macrina Wiederkehr, Seasons of Your Heart  <link>

I don’t know Who—or what—put the question, I don’t know when it was put. I don’t even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone—or Something—and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.

— Dag Hammarskjöld , a journal entry from Markings  <link>

The breaking wave and the muscle as it contracts obey the same law. Delicate line gathers the body’s total strength in a bold balance. Shall my soul meet so severe a curve, journeying on its way to form?

— Dag Hammarskjöld  <link>

Not every end is the goal. The end of a melody is not its goal; and yet: if a melody has not reached its end, it has not reached its goal. A parable.

— Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow, paragraph 204  <link>

“Are the gods not just?”
“Oh no, child. What would become of us if they were?”

— C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces, bk.2 ch.4  <link>

God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.

— Dag Hammarskjöld , a journal entry from Markings  <link>

Never, “for the sake of peace and quiet,” deny your own experience or convictions.

— Dag Hammarskjöld , a journal entry from Markings  <link>

Talk of Saying What They Mean…

Lightly men talk of saying what they mean. Often when he was teaching me to write in Greek the Fox would say, “Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that’s the whole art and joy of words.” A glib saying. When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the centre of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about joy of words.

— C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces, bk.2 ch.4  <link>

Both the Believer and the Unbeliever Share Doubt and Belief

Just as the believer is choked by the salt water of doubt constantly washed into his mouth by the ocean of uncertainty, so the non-believer is troubled by doubts about his unbelief, about the real totality of the world which he has made up his mind to explain as a self-contained whole… Both the believer and the unbeliever share, each in his own way, doubt and belief.

— Josef Cardinal Ratzinger  <link>

The answer to any question starting, “Why don’t they…” is almost always “Money”.

— Robert A. Heinlein  <link>

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. The opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.

— Niels Bohr  <link>

We judge of man’s wisdom by his hope.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson  <link>

When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope.

— Henri Nouwen  <link>

You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don’t alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views. Which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that need altering.

— Doctor Who, The Face of Evil  <link>

God is not God’s name but an opinion about God.

— Pope Sixtus  <link>

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to ones courage.

— Anaïs Nin  <link>

The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.

— Carl Jung  <link>

The Paradox of Life

A bit beyond perception’s reach
I sometimes believe I see
that life is two locked boxes
each containing the other’s key.

— Piet Hein  <link>

Go forth on your path, as it exists only through your walking.

— St. Augustine  <link>

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

— Rumi  <link>

Truth is a fire, and to speak it means to shine and to burn.

— Gustav Klimt  <link>

Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.

— Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving  <link>

To do a certain kind of thing, you have to be a certain kind of person.

— Zen proverb  <link>

Clay is used to make vases, but it is the emptiness they contain that makes them useful.

— Lao Tzu  <link>

Do or do not. There is no try.

— Yoda, from Star Wars, Episode V: Empire Strikes Back  <link>

A learning experience is one of those things that says, “You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that.”

— Douglas Adams  <link>

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

— Anaïs Nin  <link>