“The soul that wants to be at peace must flee from thoughts of other people’s sins as though from the pains of hell, begging God for a remedy and for help against it; for the consideration of other people’s sins makes a sort of thick mist before the eyes of the soul, and during such times we cannot see the beauty of God unless we regard the sins with sorrow for those who commit them, with compassion and with a holy wish for God to help them; for if we do not do this the consideration of sins harms and distresses and hinders the soul.”
– —Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love (trans. Elizabeth Spearing), ch. 76 (via catechumenate)
A Hymn to God the Father
Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still: though still I do deplore?
When though hast done, thou hast not done,
For, I have more.
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin? and maybe, made my sin their door?
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two: but wallowed in a score?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.
I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by thyself, that at my death thy son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
And, having done that, thou hast done;
I fear no more.
“We already know more than we practice. What if we began practicing what we know?”
– Keith Anderson, president of The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology (via elnellis)
“If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or, as it were, fondle them — peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on their shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that if you do not know what is in them, you will at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances.”
“Poetry is sane because it floats so easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion…To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”
– G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (via litverve)
“Essentially, if our secrets are secrets because we are told to be ashamed, then we must share them. There is no shame in being sad or struggling or trying to heal. We are all desperate, depraved and sacred. We are all terrible and brillIant. I can list all the things that can make a girl want to escape her own body (re: patriarchy). But I’d rather list all the things that make me want to stay in my body, and adorn it like a home, rub oils into my skin, tell it how sorry I am for trying to leave, for trying to hurt it into submission.”
– Warsan Shire (via didyoueatallthisacid)
“When we put our effort into whatever it takes to help us connect with God, we quite naturally do good things without thinking about them. In such “accidental obedience,” we obey out of a personal connection with God, not because we ordered ourselves to do it. That’s how life with God works: You do the connecting (with God), and God does the perfecting (in your behavior). The distinction of where to put the effort is crucial: not in trying to be good (or do what Jesus did) but in connecting with Jesus himself.”
– Jan Johnson, Invitation to the Jesus Life (via bethmaynard)
Song After Sadness
Despair is still servant
to the violet and wild ongoings
of bone. You, remember, are
that which must be made
servant only to salt, only
to the watery acre that is the body
of the beloved, only to the child
leaning forward into
the exhibit of birches
the forest has made of bronze light
and snow. Even as the day kneels
forward, the oceans and strung garnets, too,
kneel, they are all kneeling,
the city, the goat, the lime tree
and mother, the fearful doctor,
kneeling. Don’t say it’s the beautiful
I praise. I praise the human,
gutted and rising.
What I began to see was that the Bible is not essentially, as I had always more or less supposed, a book of ethical principles, of moral exhortations, of cautionary tales about exemplary people, of uplifting thoughts — in fact, not really a religious book at all in the sense of most of the books you would be apt to find in a minister’s study or reviewed in a special religion issue of the New York Times book section are religious. I saw it instead as a great, tattered compendium of writings, the underlying and unifying purpose of all of which is to show how God works through the Jacobs and Jabboks of history to make himself known in the world and to draw the world back to himself.
For all its vast diversity and unevenness, it is a book with a plot and a plot that can be readily stated. God makes the world in love. For one reason or another the world chooses to reject God. God will not reject the world but continues his mysterious and relentless pursuit of it to the end of time. That is what he is doing by choosing Israel to be his special people. That is what he is doing through all the passion and poetry and invective of the prophets. That is why history plays such a crucial part in the Old Testament — all those kings and renegades and battles and invasions and apostasies — because it was precisely through people like that and events like those that God was at work, as, later, in the New Testament, he was supremely at work in the person and event of Jesus Christ. Only “is at work” would be the more accurate way of putting it because if there is a God who works at all, his work goes on still, of course, and at one and the same time the Biblical past not only illumines the present but becomes itself part of that present, part of our own individual pasts. Until you can read the story of Adam and Eve, of Abraham and Sarah, of David and Bathsheba, as your own story, Muilenburg said, you have not really understood it.”
– Frederick Buechner, remembering his time in James Muilenburg’s classes at Union Seminary in the 1950s (via wesleyhill)
Now I Smack My Head
I’ve taken too many things seriously,
for example: that there is inherent
seriousness in everything,
if we can just locate it, it being
our duty to try. Now I smack my head
and cry How could I have been so stupid—
the rain is only the rain, my
boy. But then I am coming out of the library, late,
after watching Laurel and Hardy
in Sons of the Desert, and already I can’t stop
thinking of Oliver Hardy’s face,
the four thousand expressions, from horror
to smirkery, that pass over it
as he waits for his wife
to let him have it, and rain is dripping
from the aged ginkgo dumbly springing its leaves
again, there is the smell
of pizza dough, a wet dog crosses the street,
and I can’t do anything
for about ten seconds but stand there
with my heart pounding wildly,
seriously in love with it all.
—Charlie Smith, Indistinguishable from the Darkness