Archive for January, 2013

The Broadest Possible Exercise of Imagination

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

When definitions of “us” and “them” begin to contract, there seems to be no limit to how narrow these definitions can become. As they shrink and narrow, they are increasingly inflamed, more dangerous and inhumane. They present themselves as movements toward truer and purer community, but, as I have said, they are the destruction of community. They insist that the imagination must stay within the boundaries they establish for it, that sympathy and identification are only allowable within certain limits. I am convinced that the broadest possible exercise of imagination is the thing most conducive to human health, individual and global.

— Marilynne Robinson, When I Was a Child, I Read Books, p. 26

An Image That Makes Them Sad

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

How long will grown men and women in this world
keep drawing in their coloring books
an image of God that
makes them
sad?

— Meister Eckhart, translated by Daniel Ladinsky, in Love Poems from God, p. 117

A God Box

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

One modest tool for letting go in prayer that I’ve used for twenty-five years is a God box. I’ve relied on every imaginable container — from a pillbox, to my car’s glove box, to decorative boxes friends have given me. The container has to exist in time and space, so you can physically put a note into it, so you can see yourself let go, in time and space.

On a note, I write down the name of the person about whom I am so distressed or angry, or describe the situation that is killing me, with which I am so toxically, crazily obsessed, and I fold the note up, stick it in the box and close it. You might have a brief moment of prayer, and it might come out sounding like this: “Here. You think you’re so big? Fine. You deal with it. Although I have a few more excellent ideas on how best to proceed.” Then I agree to keep my sticky mitts off the spaceship until I hear back.

— Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, p. 36

Imagination

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

And imagination is from God. It is part of the way we understand the world. I think it’s okay to imagine God and grace the best you can. Some of the stuff we imagine engages and connects and calls for the very best in us to come out. Other imaginings disengage us, and shut us down. My understanding is that you get to choose which of your thoughts to go with.

Imagining God can be so different from wishful thinking, if your spiritual experiences change your behavior over time. Have you become more generous, which is the ultimate healing? Or more patient, which is a close second? Did your world become bigger and juicier and more tender? Have you become ever so slightly kinder to yourself? This is how you tell.

— Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, p. 21

Unique in How We Are Loved

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

You matter to me. Reading those words, I thought my heart would burst. That is the crux of love, one person mattering to another person, one existence that is important among all other lives. One person can count for something individual and special. We are not interchangeable. We are unique in how we are loved.

— Nina Sankovitch, My Year of Magical Reading, p. 127

The Community of the Written Word

Monday, January 7th, 2013

I belong to the community of the written word in several ways. First, books have taught me most of what I know, and they have trained my attention and my imagination. Second, they gave me a sense of the possible, which is the great service — and too often, when it is ungenerous, the great disservice — a community performs for its members. Third, they embodied richness and refinement of language, and the artful use of language in the service of the imagination. Fourth, they gave me and still give me courage. Sometimes, when I have spent days in my study dreaming a world while the world itself shines outside my windows, forgetting to call my mother because one of my nonbeings has come up with a thought that interests me, I think, this is a very odd way to spend a life. But I have my library all around me, my cloud of witnesses to the strangeness and brilliance of human experience, who have helped me to my deepest enjoyments of it.

— Marilynne Robinson, When I Was a Child, I Read Books, p. 22-23

Marvelous Things!

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

The purpose of the Lord is good beyond our imagining. We come to God with our troubles, and God renders back to us his gifts. No adversity is too great to be transformed. As the psalmist exclaims in Psalm 98:1: “O sing to the Lord a new song; for he has done marvelous things.”

— Julia Cameron, Faith and Will, p. 220