We find by losing. We hold fast by letting go. We become something new by ceasing to be something old.
We find by losing. We hold fast by letting go. We become something new by ceasing to be something old. This seems to be close to the heart of that mystery. I know no more now than I ever did about the far side of death as the last letting-go of all, but now I know that I do not need to know, and that I do not need to be afraid of not knowing. God knows. That is all that matters.
You do not need to understand healing to be healed or know anything about blessing to be blessed.
Stop trying to protect, to rescue, to judge, to manage the lives around you... Remember that the lives of others are not your business. They are their business. They are God's busineess... Even your own life is not your business. It also is God's Business. Leave it to God.
My prayer is spasmodic, occasional, desperate. It has a great deal to do with my children's physical well-being -- that when they're traveling in the air the plane not crash, things like that.
Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into wave, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me.
Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into wave, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me. To see reality-not as we expect it to be but as it is-is to see that unless we live for each other and in and through each other, we do not really live very satisfactorily; that there can really be life only where there really is, in just this sense, love.
If you don't have doubts you're either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants-in-the-pants of faith. They keep it alive and moving.
There is no event so common place but that God is present within it, always hidden, always leaving you room to recognize Him or not to recognize Him.
It is as impossible for man to demonstrate the existence of God as it would be for even Sherlock Holmes to demonstrate the existence of Arthur Conan Doyle.
The world needs people who save lives.
To sentimentalise something is to look only at the emotion in it and at the emotion it stirs in us rather than at the reality of it, which we are always tempted not to look at because reality, truth, silence are all what we are not much good at and avoid when we can. To sentimentalise something is to savour rather than to suffer the sadness of it, is to sigh over the prettiness of it rather than to tremble at the beauty of it, which may make fearsome demands of us or pose fearsome threats.
What gets me back to church, I think, is thinking maybe this time that question "Is it true?" will be answered, not just in terms of somebody saying, "Yes, it's true," but something will happen in a sermon or maybe shuffling up to the Eucharist, or in the old lady who's sitting beside me with a Bible -- maybe something will happen which will show me that it's true. So I go back thinking, maybe this time I'll be lucky.
Vocation is the place where your deep gladness meets the world's deep need .
If you talk about sin, you don't have to use the first person singular, but speak out of that part of yourself which knows what it means to become estranged from people you love. Speak in your own voice about things that you in your own life have in one way or another experienced.
I not only have my secrets, I am my secrets. And you are yours. Our secrets are human secrets, and our trusting each other enough to share them with each other has much to do with the secret of what it means to be human.
There's no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth.
Lord, catch me off guard today. Surprise me with some moment of beauty or pain so that at least for the moment, I may be startled into seeing that you are here in all your splendor, always and everywhere, barely hidden, beneath, beyond, within this life I breathe.
The magic of words is that they have power to do more than convey meaning; not only do they have the power to make things clear, they make things happen.
If you want to be holy, be kind.
Once we have seen Him in a stable, we can never be sure where He will appear or to what lengths he will go or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation He will descend in His wild pursuit of men.
And because God's love is uncoercive and treasures our freedom -- if above all he wants us to love him, then we must be left free not to love him -- we are free to resist it, deny it, crucify it finally, which we do again and again. This is our terrible freedom, which love refuses to overpower so that, in this, the greatest of all powers, God's power, is itself powerless.
Go where your best prayers take you.
We are children, perhaps, at the very moment when we know that it is as children that God loves us -- not because we have deserved his love and not in spite of our undeserving; not because we try and not because we recognize the futility of our trying; but simply because he has chosen to love us. We are children because he is our father; and all of our efforts, fruitful and fruitless, to do good, to speak truth, to understand, are the efforts of children who, for all their precocity, are children still in that before we loved him, he loved us, as children, through Jesus Christ our lord.
Our father. We have killed him, and we will kill him again, and our world will kill him. And yet he is there. It is he who listens at the door. It is he who is coming. It is our father who is about to be born. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I believe that what Genesis suggests is that this original self, with the print of God's thumb still upon it, is the most essential part of who we are and is buried deep in all of us as a source of wisdom and strength and healing which we can draw upon or, with our terrible freedom, not draw upon as we choose. I think that among other things all real art comes from that deepest self -- painting, writing music, dance, all of it that in some way nourishes the spirit.
I was deeply influenced by an Episcopal laywoman named Agnes Sanford, who in her day was quite famous as a faith healer, which is a term I've always distrusted, because it conjures up charlatanry. She was not a charlatan. She was the real thing, and she had had remarkable healings.
To be bored to death is a form of suicide.
A God in the hand is worth two in the bush.
You use your real voice with those you love, and you cannot be phony with those who know you well.
True faith, a simple life, a helping hand- the three things prized most in Heaven.
It is impossible to conceive how different things would have turned out if that birth had not happened whenever, wherever, however it did for millions of people who have lived since, the birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it. It is a truth that, for twenty centuries, there have been untold numbers of men and women who, in untold numbers of ways, have been so grasped by the child who was born, so caught up in the message he taught and the life he lived, that they have found themselves profoundly changed by their relationship with him.
Envy is the consuming desire to have everybody else as unsuccessful as you are.
Words spoken in deep love or deep hate set things in motion in the human heart that can never be reversed.
It is not the objective proof of God's existence that we want but the experience of God's presence. That is the miracle we are really after, and that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get.
In answer, the news of the Gospel is that extraordinary things happen. ... Lear goes berserk on a heath but comes out of it for a few brief hours every inch a king. Zaccheus climbs up a sycamore tree a crook and climbs down a saint. Paul sets out a hatchet man for the Pharisees and comes back a fool for Christ.
It is the first day because it has never been before and the last day because it will never be again. Be alive, if you can, all through this day -- today -- of your life. What's to be done? What's to be done? Follow your feet. Put on the coffee. Start the orange juice, the bacon, the toast. Then go wake up your children and your spouse. Think about the work of your hands. Live in the needs of the day.
The other day, the way people do who are approaching their 80th birthday, I was thinking about all the last business -- funerals and where do you want to be buried -- and I thought if anything were to be inscribed on my tombstone, I said let it be that.
In a world where there are no longer books we have almost all of us read, the movies we have almost all of us seen are perhaps the richest cultural bond we have. They go on haunting us for years the way our dreams go on haunting us. In a way they are our dreams. The best of them remind us of human truths that would not seem as true without them. They help to remind us that we are all of us humans together.
Through the power that memory gives us of thinking, feeling, imagining our way back through time we can at long last finally finish with the past in the sense of removing its power to hurt us and other people and to stunt our growth as human beings.
Lord, I believe; help my unbelief' is the best any of us can do really, but thank God it is enough.
The real turning point in human history is less apt to be the day the wheel is invented or Rome falls than the day a boy is born to a couple of hick Jews.
By and large a good rule for finding out is this: the kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work a) that you need most to do and b) the world most needs to have done. If you really get a kick out of your work, you've presumably met requirement a), but if your work is writing TV deodorant commercials, the chances are you've missed requirement b).
I don't think Christ would give a hoot whether you mentioned Christ to them or not. What matters -- I'm speaking arrogantly and absurdly -- to him is, are you living the kind of life that I embodied? Whether you believe in Christ or don't, who cares?
It's very easy in a way, horrible in some ways, but simply to give up the whole thing, to say, "Well, the hell with it, as far as I'm concerned life is pointless and so live the fullest, most successfully self-fulfilling life you can and let the rest go hang" -- I've never reached that point in my life.
I'm trying to listen to my past, listen to what's most deeply going on inside myself, my creative set of fictional characters, a fictional world -- to listen to that world, to search.
I am such a person of words. I've spent so much of my life trying to get it right, say it right, say it eloquently, say it truthfully, say it honestly, that when I hear it said in ways that none of those adverbs would describe I find myself so repelled that it almost shuts my mind off.
Purpose is the place where your deep gladness meets the world's needs.
The faces we lose track of most easily are the faces of the people who are closest to us, the people we love the most whose faces we see so often that we can't really see them anymore.
Listen to your life. Listen to what happens to you because it is through what happens to you that God speaks...It's in language that's not always easy to decipher, but it's there powerfully, memorably, unforgettably.
When friends speak overmuch of times gone by, often it's because they sense their present time is turning them from friends to strangers. Long before the moment came to say goodbye, I think, we said goodbye in other words and ways and silences. Then when the moment came for it at last, we didn't say it as should be said by friends. So now at last, dear Mouse, with many, many years between: goodbye.
Where your deep gladness meets with the deep hunger of the world, there you will find a further calling.
You can't be too careful what you tell a child because you never know what he'll take hold of and spend the rest of his life remembering you by.
In other words to live Eternal Life in the full and final sense is to be with God as Christ is with him, and with each other as Christ is with us.
God himself does not give answers. He gives himself.
At least for a moment we all saw, I think, that the danger of pluralism is that it becomes factionalism, and that if factions grind their separate axes too vociferously, something mutual, precious, and human is in danger of being drowned out and lost.
Life is grace. Sleep is forgiveness. The night absolves. Darkness wipes the slate clean, not spotless to be sure, but clean enough for another day's chalking.
The fearsome blessing of that hard time continues to work itself out in my life in the same way we're told the universe is still hurtling through outer space under the impact of the great cosmic explosion.... I think grace sometimes explodes into our lives like that-sending our pain, terror, astonishment hurtling through inner space until by grace they become Orion, Cassiopeia, Polaris to give us our bearings, to bring us into something like full being at last.
To be bored is to turn a cold shoulder to engage all that God is and has for you in the moment.
Speak in your own voice and speak about things that you have in some sense witnessed, not just things you read about or have been taught about in seminary. To talk about the resurrection, think about those moments where in some way you have been resurrected.
People are disturbed not by things but by the view they take of them. They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
Words have the power to make things happen.
When you remember me, it means you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart.
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom, the good thief said from his cross (Luke 23:42). There are perhaps no more human words in all of Scripture, no prayer we can pray so well.
I said, 'I'll tell you about shit, Roebuck. Take it from an expert. There's two main things about it. One thing is it's stink and corruption and waste. The other thing is if you don't pile it up too thick in any one place, it makes the seeds grow.' I said, 'Roebuck, God's where there's seeds growing. God's where there's something no bigger than the head of a pin starting to inch up out of the stink and dark of shit towards the light of day.' I said, 'Roebuck, God so loved the world he sent his only begotten son down there into the shit with the rest of us so something green could happen, something small and green and hopeful'.
The birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it.
For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost.
The world can give you these glimpses as well as fairy tales can -- the smell of rain, the dazzle of sun on white clapboard with the shadows of ferns and wash on the line, the wildness of a winter storm when in the house the flame of a candle doesn't even flicker.
If the truth is worth telling, it is worth making a fool of yourself to tell it.
The worst isn't the last thing about the world. It's the next to the last thing. The last thing is the best. It's the power from on high that comes down into the world, that wells up from the rock-bottom worst of the world like a hidden spring. Can you believe it? The last, best thing is the laughing deep in the hearts of the saints, sometimes our hearts even. Yes. You are terribly loved and forgiven. Yes. You are healed. All is well.
Toleration is often just indifference in disguise.
Whatever you do with your life-whatever you end up achieving or not achieving-the great gift you have in you to give to the world is the gift of who you alone are; your way of seeing things, and saying things, and feeling about things, that is like nobody else's. If so much as a single one of you were missing, there would be an empty place at the great feast of life that nobody else in all creation could fill.
Thus, when you wake up in the morning, called by God to be a self again, if you want to know who you are, watch your feet. Because where your feet take you, that is who you are.
Being a good steward of your pain... It involves being alive to your life. It involves taking the risk of being open, of reaching out, of keeping in touch with the pain as well as the joy of what happens because at no time more than at a painful time do we live out of the depths of who we are instead of out of the shallows.
The sadness was I'd lost a father I had never fully found. It's like a tune ends before you've heard it out. Your whole life through you search to catch the strain, and seek the face you've lost in strangers' faces.
The Shield was another of the Fear's names. According to Laughter, it means he shields the seed of Abraham the way a man starting a fire shields the flame. When Sarah was about to die childless, the Fear gave her a son. When Abraham was about to slaughter the son, the Fear gave him the ram. He is always shielding us like a guttering wick, Laughter said, because the fire he is trying to start with us is a fire that the whole world will live to warm its hands at. It is a fire in the dark that will light the whole world home.
Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.
The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.
For some people, going to church is going home. In a very profound sense, I would say the same thing. Home is where Christ is.
Don't look down on them for looking down on us. Look at them, instead, as friends we don't know yet and who don't yet know what they are missing in not knowing us.
. some moment happens in your life that you say yes right up to the roots of your hair, that makes it worth having been born just to have happen. laughing with somebody till the tears run down your cheeks. waking up to the first snow. being in bed with somebody you love... whether you thank god for such a moment or thank your lucky stars, it is a moment that is trying to open up your whole life. If you turn your back on such a moment and hurry along to business as usual, it may lose you the ball game. if you throw your arms around such a moment and hug it like crazy, it may save your soul.
Jesus is apt to come, into the very midst of life at its most real and inescapable moments. Not in a blaze of unearthly light, not in the midst of a sermon, not in the throes of some kind of religious daydream, but...at supper time, or walking along a road...He never approached from on high, but always in the midst, in the midst of people, in the midst of real life and the questions that real life asks.
Grace is something you can never get but only be given.
Grace is something you can never get but can only be given. There's no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about anymore than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks.
If what makes you happy is going out and living it up and spending all your money on wine, women, and song, the world doesn't need that. But on the other hand, if you give your life to good works -- you go and work in a leper colony and it doesn't make you happy -- the chances are you're not doing it very well.
The preacher speaks both the word of tragedy and the word of comedy because they are both of them the truth and because Jesus speaks them both.
Religion points to that area of human experience where in one way or another man comes upon mystery as a summons to pilgrimage.
If you have never known the power of God's love, then maybe it is because you have never asked to know it -- I mean really asked, expecting an answer.
At least to look back over their own lives, as I have looked back over mine, for certain themes and patterns and signals that are so easy to miss when you're caught up in the process of living them. If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think he speaks to us largely through what happens to us, so listen to what has happened to you-for the sound, above all else, of his voice.
Is it true, what Jesus believed, this Truth that he died for and lived for? Maybe the only way to know finally this side of falling off that precipice ourselves is to stop speaking and thinking and reading about it so much and to start watching and listening.
I hold my plush monkey over the bannister and let it drop. Its eyes light up when you squeeze its kidneys as whose eyes, I suppose, would not.
The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you.
The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It's for you I created the universe. I love you. There's only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you'll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.
Here and there even in our world, and now and then, even in ourselves, we catch glimpeses of a New Creation, which, fleeting as those glipmses are apt to be, give us hope both for this life and for whatever life may await us later on.
They give me the same sense of being official, public, godly utterances which the preacher stands behind but as a human being somehow does not stand in. Whatever passionate and private experience their sermons may have come from originally, you are given little or no sense of what that private experience was. At their best they bring many strengths with them into the pulpit but rarely, as I listened to them anyway, their real lives.
God created us in joy and created us for joy, and in the long run not all the darkness there is in the world and in ourselves can separate us finally from that joy, because whatever else it means to say that God created us in His image, I think it means that even when we cannot believe in Him, even when we feel most spiritually bankrupt and deserted by Him, His mark is deep within us. We have God's joy in our blood.
Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back -- in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.
You wake up on a winter morning and pull up the shade, and what lay there the evening before is no longer there -- the sodden gray yard, the dog droppings, the tire tracks in the frozen mud, the broken lawn chair you forgot to take in last fall. All this has disappeared overnight, and what you look out on is not the snow of Narnia but the snow of home, which is no less shimmering and white as it falls. The earth is covered with it, and it is falling still in silence so deep that you can hear its silence. It is snow to be shoveled, to make driving even worse than usual, snow to be joked about and cursed at, but unless the child in you is entirely dead, it is snow, too, that can make the heart beat faster when it catches you by surprise that way, before your defenses are up. It is snow that can awaken memories of things more wonderful than anything you ever knew or dreamed.
The fatted calf, the best Scotch, the hoedown could all have been his too, any time he asked for them except that he never thought to ask for them because he was too busy trying cheerlessly and religiously to earn them.
If you are going to proclaim the Christian faith, speak about those dimensions of it which you've had some experience with.
A miracle is when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A miracle is when one plus one equals a thousand.
We learn to praise God not by paying compliments but by paying attention.
Maybe at the heart of all our traveling is the dream of someday, somehow, getting Home.
Avarice, greed, concupiscence and so forth are all based on the mathematical truism that the more you get, the more you have. The remark of that it is more blessed to give than to receive is based on the human truth that the more you give away in love, the more you are. It is not just for the sake of other people that tells us to give rather than get, but for our own sakes too.
I don't go to church all that regularly, and one reason I don't is very often when I go I am bored out of my wits. I find myself being addressed by preachers who, I assume, were led by some initial passion for Christ, for the truth, for God, for "the More." That's what got them there. But that has gotten buried under all the debris of having to run a church, of concerns.
The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all.
You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.
We must be careful with our lives, for Christ's sake, because it would seem that they are the only lives we are going to have in this puzzling and perilous world, and so they are very precious and what we do with them matters enormously.
Remember Jesus of Nazareth, staggering on broken feet out of the tomb toward the Resurrection, bearing on his body the proud insignia of the defeat which is victory, the magnificent defeat of the human soul at the hands of God.
I loved rain for making home seem home more deeply, and I suspect that is why, from as far back as I can remember, I also loved those books I read and the people I met in them and the worlds they opened up to me. Like a house in the rain, books were havens of permanence and protection from whatever it was that as a child I needed protection from.
Here and there and not just in books we catch glimpses of a world of once upon a time and they lived happily ever after, of a world where there is a wizard to give courage and a heart, an angel with a white stone that has written on it our true and secret name, and it is so easy to dismiss it all that it is hardly worth bothering to do. ... But if the world of the fairy tale and our glimpses of it here and there are only a dream, they are one of the most haunting and powerful dreams that the world has ever dreamed.
Think of these pages as graffiti maybe, and where I have scratched up in a public place my longings and loves, my grievances and indecencies, be reminded in private of your own. In that way, at least, we can hold a kind of converse.
Becoming a Christian was terribly helpful to me. I can't imagine finding my way without it. I think it can be very crucially important to ally yourself with some religion.
One of the blunders religious people are particularly fond of making is the attempt to be more spiritual than God.
Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things happen. Don't be afraid.
Sin and grace, absence and presence, tragedy and comedy, they divide the world between them and where they meet head on, the Gospel happens.
One life on this earth is all that we get, whether it is enough or not enough, and the obvious conclusion would seem to be that at the very least we are fools if we do not live it as fully and bravely and beautifully as we can.
Part of the inner world of everyone is this sense of emptiness, unease, incompleteness, and I believe that this in itself is a word from God, that this is the sound that God's voice makes in a world that has explained him away. In such a world, I suspect that maybe God speaks to us most clearly through his silence, his absence, so that we know him best through our missing him.
And now brothers, I will ask you a terrible question, and God knows I ask it also of myself. Is the truth beyond all truths, beyond the stars, just this: that to live without him is the real death, that to die with him the only life?
For outlandish creatures like us, on our way to a heart, a brain, and courage, Bethlehem is not the end of our journey but only the beginning -- not home but the place through which we must pass if ever we are to reach home at last.
Like Adam, we have all lost Paradise; and yet we carry Paradise around inside of us in the form of a longing for, almost a memory of, a blessedness that is no more, or the dream of a blessedness that may someday be again.
Justice is the grammar of things. Mercy is the poetry of things.
Faith is homesickness. Faith is a lump in the throat. Faith is less a position on than a movement toward, less a sure thing than a hunch. Faith is waiting.
It is also only during the last few years that I have begun to discover something about what watching and listening involve. I am talking about prayer -- prayer not as speaking to God, which in a scattered way I do many times a day because I cannot help doing it, but prayer as being deeply silent, as watching and listening for God to speak.
I have written at length here about the way God speaks through the hieroglyphics of the things that happen to us, and I believe that is true. But I have come to believe more and more that God also speaks through the fathomless quiet of the holy place in the White Tower within us all which is beyond the power of anything that happens to us to touch although many things that happen to us block our access to it, make us forget even that it exists. I believe that this quiet and holy place in us is God's place and that it is what marks us as God's.