“The worst moment for an atheist is when he feels a profound sense of gratitude and has no one to thank.”
“Gratitude exclaims, very properly, ‘How good of God to give me this.’”
“Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the surface of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what’s going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.”
“Dear God, thank you for warm summer nights and candlelight and good food. But thank you most of all for friends. We appreciate the complicated and wonderful gifts you give us in each other. And we appreciate the task you put down before us, of loving each other the best we can, even as you love us. We pray in Christ’s name, Amen.”
“Behind what you were doing, underneath everything that was happening, God was doing something good. God was making everything right again.”
“What is the world? What is it for? It is an art. It is the best of all possible art, a finite picture of the infinite. Assess it like prose, like poetry, like architecture, sculpture, painting, dance, delta blues, opera, tragedy, comedy, romance, epic. Assess it like you would a Faberge egg, like a gunfight, like a musical, like a snowflake, like a death, a birth, a triumph, a love story, a tornado, a smile, a heartbreak, a sweater, a hunger pain, a desire, a fufillment, a desert, a waterfall, a song, a race, a frog, a play, a song, a marriage, a consummation, a thirst quenched. Assess it like that. And when you’re done, find an ant and have him assess the cathedrals of Europe.”
“To receive honestly is the best thanks for a good thing.”
Flannery O’Connor (on the deterioration of her body):
“I can, with one eye squinted, take it all as a blessing.”
“Where there’s life there’s hope, and need of vittles.”
“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”
“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.”
Wendell Berry (excerpt from his poem “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”):
“Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.”
“It has seemed to me sometimes as though the Lord breathes on this poor gray ember of Creation and it turns to radiance—for a moment or a year or the span of a life. And then it sinks back into itself again, and to look at it no one would know it had anything to do with fire, or light. Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don’t have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see. Only, who could have the courage to see it? Theologians talk about a prevenient grace that precedes grace itself and allows us to accept it. I think there must also be a prevenient courage that allows us to be brave – that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm.”
Beautiful. Fire on the embers of my day.
Thanks especially for the Wilson, Tolkien, and Berry!
Every single time I’ve explored the Rabbit Room, I come away with another author to search out. This is the second time in as many days I’ve read a quote from Annie Dillard, but the Tolkien just made me laugh. Thanks!
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