“When this twentieth century of ours became obsessed with a passion for mere size, what was lost sight of was the ancient wisdom that the emotions have their own standards of judgment and their own sense of scale. In the emotional world a small thing can touch the heart and the imagination every bit as much as something impressively gigantic; a fine phrase is as good as an epic, and a small brook in the quiet of a wood can have its say with a voice more profound than the thunder of any cataract. Who would live happily in the country must be wisely prepared to take great pleasure in little things.
Country living is a pageant of Nature and the year; it can no more stay fixed than a movement in music, and as the seasons pass, they enrich life far more with little things than with great, with remembered moments rather than the slower hours. A gold and scarlet leaf floating solitary on the clear, black water of the morning rain barrel can catch the emotion of a whole season, and chimney smoke blowing across the winter moon can be a symbol of all that is mysterious in human life.”
~ Henry Beston
“To be genuinely thoughtful, we must be willing to sustain and protract that state of doubt which is the stimulus to thorough inquiry, so as not to accept an idea or make a positive assertion of a belief, until justifying reasons have been found.”
~ John Dewey from How We Think, 1933
“All the true vows
are secret vows
the ones we speak out loud
are the ones we break.
There is only one life
you can call your own
and a thousand others
you can call by any name you want.
Hold to the truth you make
every day with your own body,
don’t turn your face away.
Hold to your own truth
at the center of the image
you were born with.
Those who do not understand
their destiny will never understand
the friends they have made
nor the work they have chosen
nor the one life that waits
beyond all the others.
By the lake in the wood
in the shadows
whisper that truth
to the quiet reflection
you see in the water.
Whatever you hear from
the water, remember,
it wants you to carry
the sound of its truth on your lips.
in this place
no one can hear you
and out of the silence
you can make a promise
it will kill you to break,
that way you’ll find
what is real and what is not.
I know what I am saying.
Time almost forsook me
and I looked again.
Seeing my reflection
I broke a promise
for the first time
after all these years
in my own voice,
before it was too late
to turn my face again.”
~ David Whyte from the House of Belonging
May we never forget September 11th
“It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they come from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them — with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself. Still illiterate, I was ready for them, committed to all the reading I could give them …”
― Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings
“Maturity is the ability to live fully and equally in multiple contexts; most especially, the ability, despite our grief and losses, to courageously inhabit the past the present and the future all at once. The wisdom that comes from maturity is recognized through a disciplined refusal to choose between or isolate three powerful dynamics that form human identity: what has happened, what is happening now and what is about to occur.
Immaturity is shown by making false choices: living only in the past, or only in the present, or only in the future, or even, living only two out of the three.
Maturity is not a static arrived platform, where life is viewed from a calm, untouched oasis of wisdom, but a living elemental frontier between what has happened, what is happening now and the consequences of that past and present; first imagined and then lived into the waiting future.
Maturity calls us to risk ourselves as much as immaturity, but for a bigger picture, a larger horizon; for a powerfully generous outward incarnation of our inward qualities and not for gains that make us smaller, even in the winning.”
~ David Whyte
“So many things to do, I’m always rushing ’round
I wish that I had time to just sit still
I’ll get done all the things I need to do today
I promise then I’ll stop a while, I will
And so I start to tackle the list of chores I made
I’ll make this house look really spick and span
I’ll tidy up and wash the floor and vac and dust as well
Clean the bathrooms, clean the house – I know I can
A friend rings up. She’s feeling down. She wants to come around
She asks if I have time to talk a while
I stop to make a coffee and lend a listening ear
I have nothing to give except my smile
Then, when she’s feeling better and she knows that she’s been heard
She thanks me and then she goes on her way
I look around my house and continue with my chores
For I am going to get somewhere today
The telephone then rings. My son’s teacher’s on the phone
She wants me to come down and get him now
I go down to the school and I bring my sick child home
I’ll clean this house up later on somehow
And later when the kids are home; ‘Mum, I need to talk’
And so I stop to listen for a while
My daughter tells me how she feels, she opens up her heart
Then, when she knows I’ve heard her, she can smile
When the night has come, I wonder, ‘what did I achieve?’
And, then I look back on all I have done
The house is still not tidy and there’s still so much to do
Just like it was when I had first begun
But, then I stop and realize my priorities are right
For when someone’s in need then, I am there
I give to them the time they need and help them where I can
I let them know how much I really care
For when the years have passed and my kids have all moved out
They will feel the love and warmth I had to give
And I know that they’ll remember the lessons that they learned
In self-worth and in how they choose to live”
~ Michelle Tetley
“The thing about old friends is not that they love you, but that they know you. They remember that disastrous New Year’s Eve when you mixed White Russians and champagne and how you wore that red maternity dress until everyone was sick of seeing the blaze of it in the office and the uncomfortable couch in your first apartment and the smoky stove in your beach rental. They look at you and don’t really think you look older because they’ve grown old along with you and, like the faded paint in a beloved room, they’re used to the look. And then one of them is gone and you’ve lost a chunk of yourself. The stories of the terrorist attacks of 2001, the tsunami, the Japanese earthquake always used numbers, the deaths of thousands a measure of how great the disaster. Catastrophe is numerical. Loss is singular, one beloved at a time.”
~ Anna Quindlen, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake