The Practice of Writing

October 29th, 2014

It’s the same with writing, which is a practice like any other. If I waited to be in the mood to write, I’d barely have a chapbook of material to my name. Who would ever be in the mood to write? Do marathon runners get in the mood to run? Do teachers wake up with the urge to lecture? I don’t know, but I doubt it. My guess is that it’s the very act that is generative. The doing of the thing that makes possible the desire for it. A runner suits up, stretches, begins to run. An inventor trudges down to his workroom, closing the door behind him. A writer sits in her writing space, setting aside the time to be alone with her work. Is she inspired doing it? Very possibly not. Is she distracted, bored, lonely, in need of stimulation? Oh, absolutely, without a doubt it’s hard to sit there. Who wants to sit there? Something nags at the edges of her mind. Should she make soup for dinner tonight? She’s on the verge of jumping up from her chair — in which case all will be lost — but wait. Suddenly she remembers: this is her hour (or two, or three). This is her habit, her job, her discipline. Think of a ballet dancer at the barre. Plié, elevé, battement tendu. She is practicing, because she knows there is no difference between practice and art. The practice is the art.

— Dani Shapiro, Still Writing, p. 50-51

Better Bruised Than Ill

October 13th, 2014

Whenever we Christians are enclosed in our groups, our movements, our parishes, in our little worlds, we remain closed, and the same thing happens to us that happens to anything closed: when a room is closed, it begins to get dank. If a person is closed up in that room, he or she becomes ill! Whenever Christians are enclosed in their groups, parishes, and movements, they take ill. If a Christian goes to the streets, or to the outskirts, he or she may risk the same thing that can happen to anyone out there: an accident. How often have we seen accidents on the road! But I am telling you: I would prefer a thousand times over a bruised Church to an ill Church! A Church, a catechist, with the courage to risk going out, and not a catechist who is studious, who knows everything but is always closed — such a person is not well. And sometimes he or she is not well in the head . . .

But, careful! Jesus does not say, Go off and do things on your own. No! That is not what he is saying. Jesus says, Go, for I am with you! This is what is so beautiful for us; it is what guides us. If we go out to bring his Gospel with love, with a true apostolic spirit, with parrhesia, he walks with us, he goes ahead of us and he gets there first.

— Pope Francis, The Church of Mercy, p. 19

A Sacred Indulgence

September 16th, 2014

Give me a great novel or memoir, some tea, and a cozy spot to curl up in, and I’m in heaven. I love to live in another person’s thoughts; I marvel at the bonds I feel with people who come alive on the page, regardless of how different their circumstances might be from mine. I not only feel I know these people, but I also recognize more of myself. Insight, information, knowledge, inspiration, power: All that and more can come through a good book….

Books, for me, used to be a way to escape. I now consider reading a good book a sacred indulgence, a chance to be any place I choose. It is my absolute favorite way to spend time. What I know for sure is that reading opens you up. It exposes you and gives you access to anything your mind can hold. What I love most about reading: It gives you the ability to reach higher ground. And keep climbing.

— Oprah Winfrey, What I Know For Sure, p. 25-26

The Gift of Forgiveness

September 13th, 2014

I will forgive you
The words are so small
But there is a universe hidden in them
When I forgive you
All those cords of resentment pain and sadness that had wrapped
themselves around my heart will be gone
When I forgive you
You will no longer define me
You measured me and assessed me and
decided that you could hurt me
I didn’t count
But I will forgive you
Because I do count
I do matter
I am bigger than the image you have of me
I am stronger
I am more beautiful
And I am infinitely more precious than you thought me
I will forgive you
My forgiveness is not a gift that I am giving to you
When I forgive you
My forgiveness will be a gift that gives itself to me

— Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu, The Gift of Forgiving, p. 26-27

I Hope You Dance!

September 4th, 2014

When you get the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.

— Lee Ann Womack, quoted by Oprah Winfrey in What I Know For Sure,, p. 6

The Dependency Paradox

June 6th, 2014

Attachment principles teach us that most people are only as needy as their unmet needs. When their emotional needs are met, and the earlier the better, they usually turn their attention outward. This is sometimes referred to in attachment literature as the “dependency paradox”: The more effectively dependent people are on one another, the more independent and daring they become.

— Amir Levine, M. D., and Rachel S. F. Heller, M. A., Attached, p. 21

Seeing and Hearing and Tasting and Delighting

April 27th, 2014

The greatest obstacle to connecting with our joy is resentment.

Joy has to do with seeing how big, how completely unobstructed, and how precious things are. Resenting what happens to you and complaining about your life are like refusing to smell the wild roses when you go for a morning walk, or like being so blind that you don’t see a huge black raven when it lands in the tree that you’re sitting under. We can get so caught up in our own personal pain or worries that we don’t notice that the wind has come up or that somebody has put flowers on the diningroom table or that when we walked out in the morning, the flags weren’t up, and that when we came back, they were flying. Resentment, bitterness, and holding a grudge prevent us from seeing and hearing and tasting and delighting.

Pema Chodron, The Wisdom of No Escape, p. 24-25

Relationships and Peace

March 10th, 2014

Feeling as though a relationship is required is never a peaceful place to be. Wanting one is a reasonable enough desire, but needing one keeps you from breathing deeply and peacefully during the individual moments as they pass by. And life is made up of individual moments. Nothing more, in fact.

— Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 201

Seventy Times Seven

March 1st, 2014

There is no use talking as if forgiveness were easy. We all know the old joke, “You’ve given up smoking once; I’ve given it up a dozen times.” In the same way I could say of a certain man, “Have I forgiven him for what he did that day? I’ve forgiven him more times than I can count.” For we find that the work of forgiveness has to be done over and over again. We forgive, we mortify our resentment; a week later some chain of thought carries us back to the original offence and we discover the old resentment blazing away as if nothing had been done about it at all. We need to forgive our brother seventy times seven not for 490 offences but for one offence.

— C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, p. 25

Who Do I Need in My Life?

February 26th, 2014

How do you know that you don’t need a romantic partner? You don’t have one. How do you know that you need one? Here he is! You don’t call the shots on this. It’s better that you don’t. That way you can give yourself everything. What do you need a partner for? To fill your hunger? Is that true? All your adult life you’ve thought that you needed a partner, and you’re still hungry. So how many partners does it take to fill you? I’m not saying that you don’t need a partner. This is about your own truth. Just go in and experience it. Need yourself, whether or not you find a partner. In the meantime, you are waiting just for you.

— Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change the World, p. 33