Presence Matters Quotes

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There were many versions of Gansey, but this one had been rare since the introduction of Adam's taming presence. It was also Ronan's favorite. It was the opposite of Gansey's most public face, which was pure control enclosed in a paper-thin wrapper of academia. But this version of Gansey was Gansey the boy. This was the Gansey who bought the Camaro, the Gansey who asked Ronan to teach him to fight, the Gansey who contained every wild spark so that it wouldn't show up in other versions. Was it the shield beneath the lake that had unleashed it? Orla's orange bikini? The bashed-up remains of his rebuilt Henrietta and the fake IDs they'd returned to? Ronan didn't really care. All that mattered was that something had struck the match, and Gansey was burning.
Maggie Stiefvater (The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2))
What are you?" she asked. "A monster," said Kell hoarsely. "You'd better let me go." The girl gave a small, mocking laugh. "Monsters don't faint in the presence of ladies." "Ladies don't dress like men and pick pockets," retorted Kell. Her smile only sharpened. "What are you really?" "Tied to your bed," said Kell matter-of-factly. "And?" His brow furrowed. "And in trouble.
Victoria Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1))
When anybody, no matter how old they are, loses a parent, I think it hurts the same as if you were only five years old, you know? I think all of us are always five years old in the presence and absence of our parents.
Sherman Alexie (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian)
The man who fears to be alone will never be anything but lonely, no matter how much he may surround himself with people. But the man who learns, in solitude and recollection, to be at peace with his own loneliness, and to prefer its reality to the illusion of merely natural companionship, comes to know the invisible companionship of God. Such a one is alone with God in all places, and he alone truly enjoys the companionship of other men, because he loves them in God in Whom their presence is not tiresome, and because of Whom his own love for them can never know satiety.
Thomas Merton (No Man Is an Island)
How acutely sometimes the presence or absence of people mattered
Kristin Cashore (Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3))
I-I've never seen anyone savor anything the way you do everything. You make me feel alive. Just being in your presence - it's addictive. You're addictive. It doesn't matter you're a witch. The way you see the world . . . I want to see it that way too. I want to be with you always, Lou. I never want to be parted from you again.
Shelby Mahurin (Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1))
Without the presence of black people in America, European-Americans would not be "white"-- they would be Irish, Italians, Poles, Welsh, and other engaged in class, ethnic, and gender struggles over resources and identity. (p. 107-108)
Cornel West (Race Matters)
In the end, what really matters? Only kindness. Only making somebody a little happier for your presence.
Nancy Horan (Under the Wide and Starry Sky)
No matter how ugly the manner in which a man dies, it’s only the presence of a suffering human soul that is horrifying, once gone, what is left is only an object.
Diana Gabaldon (Outlander (Outlander, #1))
McKenna will always be a part of me, no matter where he goes. They say that people who've lost a limb sometimes feel as if they still have it. How many times I've felt that McKenna was still here, and the empty space beside me was alive with his presence." She closed her eyes and leaned forward until her forehead and the tip of her nose touched the cool glass. "I love him beyond reason," she whispered. "He's a stranger to me now, and yet he is still so familiar. I can't imagine a sweeter agony, having him so close.
Lisa Kleypas (Again the Magic (Wallflowers, #0.5))
It hardly matters why a library is destroyed: every banning, curtailment, shredding, plunder or loot gives rise (at least as a ghostly presence) to a louder, clearer, more durable library of the banned, looted, plundered, shredded or curtailed.
Alberto Manguel (The Library at Night)
It’s not who you know that matters—it’s who knows you that’s important. Personal branding builds up your reputation to the point where you have a presence even in your absence.
Jarod Kintz (This Book is Not for Sale)
What are you?” she asked. “A monster,” said Kell hoarsely. “You’d better let me go.” The girl gave a small, mocking laugh. “Monsters don’t faint in the presence of ladies.” “Ladies don’t dress like men and pick pockets,” retorted Kell. Her smile only sharpened. “What are you really?” “Tied to your bed,” said Kell matter-of-factly.” “And?” His brow furrowed. “And in trouble.
V.E. Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1))
I don't think it matters how many parents you've got, so long as the ones who are around make their presence in a long way.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Past and future is determined by what is now…right now! This is why the present is a gift; the only one that ultimately matters most.
T.F. Hodge (From Within I Rise: Spiritual Triumph Over Death and Conscious Encounters with "The Divine Presence")
Dear Goat, How does one fall in love? Do you trip? Do you stumble, lose your balance and drop to the sidewalk, graze your knee, graze your heart? Do you crash to the stony ground? Is there a precipice, from which you float, over the edge, forever? I know I'm in love when I see you, I know when I long to see you. Not a muscle has moved. Leaves hang unruffled by any breeze. The air is still. I have fallen in love without taking step. When did this happen? I haven't even blinked. I'm on fire. Is that too banal for you? It's not, you know. You'll see. It's what happens. It's what matters. I'm on fire. I no longer eat, I forget to eat. Food looks silly to me, irrelevant. If I even notice it. But I notice nothing. My thoughts are full and raging, a house full of brothers, related by blood, feuding blood feuds: "I'm in love." "Typically stupid choice." "I am, though, I'm racked by love as if love were pain." "Go ahead. Fuck up your life. It's all wrong and you know it. Wake up. Face it." "There's only one face, it's all I see, awake or asleep." I threw the book out the window last night. I tried to forget. You are all wrong for me, I know it, but I no longer care for my thoughts unless they're thoughts of you. When I'm close to you, in your presence, I feel your hair brush my cheek when it does not. I look away from you, sometimes. Then I look back. When I tie my shoes, when I peel an orange, when I drive my car, when I lie down each night without you, I remain, As ever, Ram
Cathleen Schine (The Love Letter)
We should fix ourselves firmly in the presence of God by conversing all the time with Him...we should feed our soul with a lofty conception of God and from that derive great joy in being his. We should put life in our faith. We should give ourselves utterly to God in pure abandonment, in temporal and spiritual matters alike, and find contentment in the doing of His will,whether he takes us through sufferings or consolations.
Brother Lawrence
I don't think it matters how many parents you've got, as long as those who are around make their presence a good one.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
All matters being spiritual; man or woman can only find peace when peace is realized from within.
T.F. Hodge (From Within I Rise: Spiritual Triumph Over Death and Conscious Encounters with "The Divine Presence")
You can have as much of Me and My Peace as you want, through thousands of correct choices each day. The most persistent choice you face is whether to trust Me or to worry. You will never run out of things to worry about, but you can choose to trust Me no matter what. I am an ever-present help in trouble. Trust Me, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.
Sarah Young (Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence)
A kind of joy came upon him, as if borne in on a summer breeze. He dimly recalled that he had been thinking of failure--as if it mattered. It seemed to him now that such thoughts were mean, unworthy of what his life had been. Dim presences gathered at the edge of his consciousness; he could not see them, but he knew that they were there, gathering their forces toward a kind of palpability he could not see or hear. He was approaching them, he knew; but there was no need to hurry. He could ignore them if he wished; he had all the time there was. There was a softness around him, and a languor crept upon his limbs. A sense of his own identity came upon him with a sudden force, and he felt the power of it. He was himself, and he knew what he had been.
John Williams (Stoner)
...pray for the grace to realize that no matter where you are, you are in the presence of the Lord.
Ann Spangler (Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith)
A giant octopus living way down deep at the bottom of the ocean. It has this tremendously powerful life force, a bunch of long, undulating legs, and it's heading somewhere, moving through the darkness of the ocean… It takes on all kinds of different shapes—sometimes it's 'the nation,' and sometimes it's 'the law,' and sometimes it takes on shapes that are more difficult and dangerous than that. You can try cutting off its legs, but they just keep growing back. Nobody can kill it. It's too strong, and it lives too far down in the ocean. Nobody knows where its heart is. What I felt then was a deep terror. And a kind of hopelessness, a feeling that I could never run away from this thing, no matter how far I went. And this creature, this thing doesn't give a damn that I'm me or you're you. In its presence, all human beings lose their names and their faces. We all turn into signs, into numbers.
Haruki Murakami (After Dark)
The best part about best friends is that you can maintain a relationship at any distance. In this day and age, we have Skype, FaceTime, text messages, audio messages, photo messages, and every social media site you can think of. With my friends, I send little photo updates almost daily and do a video call every week. It’s really not that difficult. We talk about anything and everything. I can confide my deepest, darkest secrets with my best friends and fear no judgment. It’s actually the best. And when we have the luxury of being in the same location, we pick things up like we were never separated. It really doesn’t matter where we go or what we do; it’s honestly just so nice to be in each other’s presence that the rest doesn’t matter.
Connor Franta (A Work in Progress)
No matter that you anticipate a thing; you get so used to it as part of the future that its actuality, its arrival, its force and presence, startles you, takes you by surprise, as would a ghost suddenly appearing in the room wearing familiar perfume and boots.
Lorrie Moore (Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?)
All my life I have been a poor go-to-sleeper. People in trains, who lay their newspaper aside, fold their silly arms, and immediately, with an offensive familiarity of demeanour, start snoring, amaze me as much as the uninhibited chap who cozily defecates in the presence of a chatty tubber, or participates in huge demonstrations, or joins some union in order to dissolve in it. Sleep is the most moronic fraternity in the world, with the heaviest dues and the crudest rituals. It is a mental torture I find debasing. The strain and drain of composition often force me, alas, to swallow a strong pill that gives me an hour or two of frightful nightmares or even to accept the comic relief of a midday snooze, the way a senile rake might totter to the nearest euthanasium; but I simply cannot get used to the nightly betrayal of reason, humanity, genius. No matter how great my weariness, the wrench of parting with consciousness is unspeakably repulsive to me.
Vladimir Nabokov (Speak, Memory)
I hold that space cannot be curved, for the simple reason that it can have no properties. It might as well be said that God has properties. He has not, but only attributes and these are of our own making. Of properties we can only speak when dealing with matter filling the space. To say that in the presence of large bodies space becomes curved is equivalent to stating that something can act upon nothing. I, for one, refuse to subscribe to such a view.
Nikola Tesla
It is at least as possible for a Philadelphian to feel the presence of Penn and Franklin as for an Englishman to see the ghosts of Alfred and Becket. Tradition does not mean a dead town; it does not mean that the living are dead but that the dead are alive. It means that it still matters what Penn did two hundred years ago or what Franklin did a hundred years ago; I never could feel in New York that it mattered what anybody did an hour ago.
G.K. Chesterton (What I Saw in America)
Your presence here is is only a matter of conducting an experiment in limits, reminding yourself of what you aren’t.
Jay McInerney
What mattered to her was that she loved God, whether or not He granted her the consolation and joy of His felt presence.
Brian Kolodiejchuk (Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the "Saint of Calcutta")
Because there's someone else here in East Carmin. Someone hopelessly unsuitable. It's all a really bad idea and will lead to trouble of the worst sort. But no matter what, every minute in her presence makes my life a minute more complete.
Jasper Fforde (Shades of Grey (Shades of Grey, #1))
The very quality of your life, whether you love it or hate it, is based upon how thankful you are toward God. It is one's attitude that determines whether life unfolds into a place of blessedness or wretchedness. Indeed, looking at the same rose bush, some people complain that the roses have thorns while others rejoice that some thorns come with roses. It all depends on your perspective. This is the only life you will have before you enter eternity. If you want to find joy, you must first find thankfulness. Indeed, the one who is thankful for even a little enjoys much. But the unappreciative soul is always miserable, always complaining. He lives outside the shelter of the Most High God. Perhaps the worst enemy we have is not the devil but our own tongue. James tells us, "The tongue is set among our members as that which . . . sets on fire the course of our life" (James 3:6). He goes on to say this fire is ignited by hell. Consider: with our own words we can enter the spirit of heaven or the agonies of hell! It is hell with its punishments, torments and misery that controls the life of the grumbler and complainer! Paul expands this thought in 1 Corinthians 10:10, where he reminds us of the Jews who "grumble[d] . . . and were destroyed by the destroyer." The fact is, every time we open up to grumbling and complaining, the quality of our life is reduced proportionally -- a destroyer is bringing our life to ruin! People often ask me, "What is the ruling demon over our church or city?" They expect me to answer with the ancient Aramaic or Phoenician name of a fallen angel. What I usually tell them is a lot more practical: one of the most pervasive evil influences over our nation is ingratitude! Do not minimize the strength and cunning of this enemy! Paul said that the Jews who grumbled and complained during their difficult circumstances were "destroyed by the destroyer." Who was this destroyer? If you insist on discerning an ancient world ruler, one of the most powerful spirits mentioned in the Bible is Abaddon, whose Greek name is Apollyon. It means "destroyer" (Rev. 9:11). Paul said the Jews were destroyed by this spirit. In other words, when we are complaining or unthankful, we open the door to the destroyer, Abaddon, the demon king over the abyss of hell! In the Presence of God Multitudes in our nation have become specialists in the "science of misery." They are experts -- moral accountants who can, in a moment, tally all the wrongs society has ever done to them or their group. I have never talked with one of these people who was happy, blessed or content about anything. They expect an imperfect world to treat them perfectly. Truly, there are people in this wounded country of ours who need special attention. However, most of us simply need to repent of ingratitude, for it is ingratitude itself that is keeping wounds alive! We simply need to forgive the wrongs of the past and become thankful for what we have in the present. The moment we become grateful, we actually begin to ascend spiritually into the presence of God. The psalmist wrote, "Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. . . . Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations" (Psalm 100:2, 4-5). It does not matter what your circumstances are; the instant you begin to thank God, even though your situation has not changed, you begin to change. The key that unlocks the gates of heaven is a thankful heart. Entrance into the courts of God comes as you simply begin to praise the Lord.
Francis Frangipane
One must go to Dostoievsky who experienced on occasion ecstatic epileptic auras to which he attached momentous significance, to find an adequate historical parallel. "There are moments, and it is only a matter of five or six seconds, when you feel the presence of the eternal harmony ... a terrible thing is the frightful clearness with which it manifests itself and the rapture with which it fills you. If this state were to last more than five seconds, the soul could not endure it and would have to disappear. During these five seconds I live a whole human existence, and for that I would give my whole life and not think that I was paying too dearly …
Oliver Sacks (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales)
How do we accomplish this matter of gathering life together in God? We must begin primarily by refocusing our attention keeping our minds and hearts directed toward God. The essence of the centered life is attention to God in all we think, say and do. It is the growing realization of His presence in our most down-to-earth living.
Sue Monk Kidd (God's Joyful Surprise: Finding Yourself Loved)
I love you, Lou.” His eyes welled with fresh tears. “I—I’ve never seen anyone savor anything the way you do everything. You make me feel alive. Just being in your presence—it’s addictive. You’re addictive. It doesn’t matter you’re a witch. The way you see the world . . . I want to see it that way too. I want to be with you always, Lou. I never want to be parted from you again.
Shelby Mahurin (Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1))
There is a kind of sleep that steals upon us sometimes, which, while it holds the body prisoner, does not free the mind from a sense of things about it, and enable it to ramble at its pleasure. So far as an overpowering heaviness, a prostration of strength, and an utter inability to control our thoughts or power of motion, can be called sleep, this is it; and yet we have a consciousness of all that is going on about us; and if we dream at such a time, words which are really spoken, or sounds which really exist at the moment, accommodate themselves with surprising readiness to our visions, until reality and imagination become so strangely blended that it is afterwards almost a matter of impossibilty to separate the two. Nor is this, the most striking phenomenon, incidental to such a state. It is an undoubted fact, that although our senses of touch and sight be for the time dead, yet our sleeping thoughts, and the visionary scenes that pass before us, will be influenced, and materially influenced, by the mere silent presence of some external object: which may not have been near us when we closed our eyes: and of whose vicinity we have had no waking consciousness.
Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist)
What someone’s lies reveal about them (aspirations to being an accomplished writer, fantasies of an exotic history and a cosmopolitan family) are always sadder than the fact of the lies themselves. These inventions illuminate the negative spaces of someone’s self-image, their vanity and insecurities and most childish wishes, as we can infer from warped starlight the presence of a far vaster mass of dark matter.
Tim Kreider (We Learn Nothing)
We all have a soul family, the ones that ignite and support our truth. They feed something in us we weren't aware we needed before them. They'll make you face yourself and become raw and authentic. You'll roam but never too far from eachother for the invisible thread of connectedness; once opened can never be locked. They are the ones who will see you through all the important days of your life no matter what tributes and trials you face. They'll just be there, in presence, in synchronicity or in spirit.
Nikki Rowe
Along with this total abandonment must go a complete acceptance of God's will with equanimity and resignation. No matter what troubles and ills come our way, they are to be willingly and indeed joyously endured since they come from God, and God knows what He is doing. This trust must be unreserved with no thought of reward, but inevitably God will reward the person who so believes and endures with graces and treasures far beyond any sacrifices or offerings he or she has made since He is infinitely good. Also, God never tests us beyond our ability to endure and, as a matter of fact, bestows on us graces that will enable us to endure as we show our acceptance of whatever He sends our way.
Brother Lawrence (The Practice of the Presence of God)
A reliable indicator we have entered present moment awareness is if our experience, no matter how comfortable or uncomfortable it may feel at any given moment, is infused with gratefulness.
Michael Brown (The Presence Process - A Journey Into Present Moment Awareness)
The things that stayed were things that didn't matter except they stayed, night and day, all seasons the same, and were peaceful to a fault and boded no ill but thought well enough of themselves to repeat their presences.
William H. Gass (Middle C)
The most important thing in life is style. That is the style of one s existence the characteristic mode of one s actions is basically ultimately what matters. For if man defines himself by doing then style is doubly definitive because style describes the doing. The point is this happiness is a learned condition. And since it is learned and self generating it does not depend upon external circumstances for its perpetuation. This throws a very ironic light on content. And underscores the primacy of style. It is content or rather the consciousness of content that fills the void. But the mere presence of content is not enough. It is style that gives content the capacity to absorb us to move us it is style that makes us care.
Tom Robbins (Another Roadside Attraction)
A woman in her thirties came to see me. As she greeted me, I could sense the pain behind her polite and superficial smile. She started telling me her story, and within one second her smile changed into a grimace of pain. Then, she began to sob uncontrollably. She said she felt lonely and unfulfilled. There was much anger and sadness. As a child she had been abused by a physically violent father. I saw quickly that her pain was not caused by her present life circumstances but by an extraordinarily heavy pain-body. Her pain-body had become the filter through which she viewed her life situation. She was not yet able to see the link between the emotional pain and her thoughts, being completely identified with both. She could not yet see that she was feeding the pain-body with her thoughts. In other words, she lived with the burden of a deeply unhappy self. At some level, however, she must have realized that her pain originated within herself, that she was a burden to herself. She was ready to awaken, and this is why she had come. I directed the focus of her attention to what she was feeling inside her body and asked her to sense the emotion directly, instead of through the filter of her unhappy thoughts, her unhappy story. She said she had come expecting me to show her the way out of her unhappiness, not into it. Reluctantly, however, she did what I asked her to do. Tears were rolling down her face, her whole body was shaking. “At this moment, this is what you feel.” I said. “There is nothing you can do about the fact that at this moment this is what you feel. Now, instead of wanting this moment to be different from the way it is, which adds more pain to the pain that is already there, is it possible for you to completely accept that this is what you feel right now?” She was quiet for a moment. Suddenly she looked impatient, as if she was about to get up, and said angrily, “No, I don't want to accept this.” “Who is speaking?” I asked her. “You or the unhappiness in you? Can you see that your unhappiness about being unhappy is just another layer of unhappiness?” She became quiet again. “I am not asking you to do anything. All I'm asking is that you find out whether it is possible for you to allow those feelings to be there. In other words, and this may sound strange, if you don't mind being unhappy, what happens to the unhappiness? Don't you want to find out?” She looked puzzled briefly, and after a minute or so of sitting silently, I suddenly noticed a significant shift in her energy field. She said, “This is weird. I 'm still unhappy, but now there is space around it. It seems to matter less.” This was the first time I heard somebody put it like that: There is space around my unhappiness. That space, of course, comes when there is inner acceptance of whatever you are experiencing in the present moment. I didn't say much else, allowing her to be with the experience. Later she came to understand that the moment she stopped identifying with the feeling, the old painful emotion that lived in her, the moment she put her attention on it directly without trying to resist it, it could no longer control her thinking and so become mixed up with a mentally constructed story called “The Unhappy Me.” Another dimension had come into her life that transcended her personal past – the dimension of Presence. Since you cannot be unhappy without an unhappy story, this was the end of her unhappiness. It was also the beginning of the end of her pain-body. Emotion in itself is not unhappiness. Only emotion plus an unhappy story is unhappiness. When our session came to an end, it was fulfilling to know that I had just witnessed the arising of Presence in another human being. The very reason for our existence in human form is to bring that dimension of consciousness into this world. I had also witnessed a diminishment of the pain-body, not through fighting it but through bringing the light of consciousness to it.
Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose)
...they knew each other as much as they knew themselves, and their intimacy, rather like too many suitcases, was a matter of perpetual concern; together they moved slowly, clumsily, effecting lugubrious compromises, attending to delicate shifts of mood, repairing breaches. As individuals they didn't easily take offense; but together they managed to offend each other in surprising, unexpected ways; then the offender - it had happened twice since their arrival - became irritated by the cloying susceptibilities of the other, and they would continue to explore the twisting alleyways and sudden squares in silence, and with each step the city would recede as they locked tighter into each other's presence.
Ian McEwan (The Comfort of Strangers)
Prayer is not only conversation, it is transformation. It is not only light, it is fire. And the closer you get to Him, the hotter the fire gets. Words begin to melt. The first word that melts in His presence is the word 'I.' That is His unique name. The closer you get to Him, the harder it is to begin a sentence with 'I.' It melts in the fire of 'thou.
Peter Kreeft (Before I Go: Letters to Our Children about What Really Matters)
There was nothing frightening about the dead man; there never is. No matter how ugly the manner in which a man dies, it's only the presence of a suffering human soul that is horrifying; once gone, what is left is only an object
Diana Gabaldon (Outlander (Outlander, #1))
Claire spoke often in her poetry of the idea of "fittingness": that is, when your chosen pursuit and your ability to achieve it--no matter how small or insignificant both might be--are matched exactly, are fitting. This, Claire argued, is when we become truly human, fully ourselves, beautiful....In Claire's presence, you were not faulty or badly designed, no, not at all. You were the fitting receptacle and instrument of your talents and beliefs and desires.
Zadie Smith (On Beauty)
You can speak, I said looking directly at him, I needed him to know I wasn’t afraid. I’d been dealing with wandering souls, which is what I like to think of them as, all my life. They didn’t frighten me but I liked to ignore them so they would go away. If they ever thought I could see them, they followed me. He continued to watch me with an amused expression on his face. I noticed his crooked grin produced a single dimple. The dimple didn’t seem to fit with his cold, arrogant demeanor. As much as his presence annoyed me, I couldn’t help but admit this soul could only be labeled as ridiculously gorgeous. Yes, I speak. Were you expecting me to be mute? I leaned my hip against the desk. Yes, as a matter of fact, I was. You’re the first one who has ever spoken to me. A frown creased his forehead. The first one? He appeared genuinely surprised he wasn’t the first dead person I could see. He was definitely the most unique soul I’d ever seen. Ignoring a soul who could talk was going to be
Abbi Glines (Existence (Existence, #1))
I begin to wonder how different "real" love is from my imaginary affair. In any relationship there's both reality and the perception of reality. As long as I see the other person as smart or sexy or handsome or good and as long as I can hang on to the feeling of loving and being loved then it's real. But somehow we're able to hang on to those feelings and beliefs even when objective reality diverges. Actions don't necessarily alter beliefs and beliefs matter more. Before you fall in love you begin to imagine the other person. You create your lover extrapolating on reality dusting him or her with gold. You embellish to the point of perfection and then fall hard for the image you've made. With all my traveling I may have spent more time imagining than others. But a huge amount of all love takes place in the head. In the middle of any relationship we can spend more time hour for hour thinking about the other person than we spend in his presence. And after any breakup there's no telling how long we might pine for someone. Love itself is in the mind's eye.
Elisabeth Eaves (Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents)
If I had to name my disability, I would call it an unwillingness to fall. On the one hand, this is perfectly normal. I do not know anyone who likes to fall. But, on the other hand, this reluctance signals mistrust of the central truth of the Christian gospel: life springs from death, not only at the last but also in the many little deaths along the way. When everything you count on for protection has failed, the Divine Presence does not fail. The hands are still there – not promising to rescue, not promising to intervene – promising only to hold you no matter how far you fall. Ironically, those who try hardest not to fall learn this later than those who topple more easily. The ones who find their lives are the losers, while the winners come in last.
Barbara Brown Taylor (Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith)
Worship and spiritual hunger make you so attractive to God that your circumstances cease to matter anymore. He will move heaven and earth to find a worshiper. When you begin to worship with all your being and desire, your heart turns Him toward you. You capture His attention and attracts His affection.
Tommy Tenney (The God Catchers: Experiencing the Manifest Presence of God)
True courage comes not just from feeling confident and strong, but from being the honest, authentic expression of yourself. Think about how audacious it is to really believe in yourself. It tathat your presence on this earth matters.
Debbie Ford (Courage: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self-Confidence)
It hardly matters how the body of Jesus came to be missing because in the last analysis what convinced the people that he had risen from the dead was not the absence of his corpse but his living presence. And so it has been ever since.
Frederick Buechner (The Faces of Jesus: A Life Story)
Matter,” Vittoria repeated. “Blossoming out of nothing. An incredible display of subatomic fireworks. A miniature universe springing to life. He proved not only that matter can be created from nothing, but that the Big Bang and Genesis can be explained simply by accepting the presence of an enormous source of energy.” “You mean God?” Kohler demanded. “God, Buddha, The Force, Yahweh, the singularity, the unicity point—call it whatever you like—the result is the same. Science and religion support the same truth—pure energy is the father of creation.
Dan Brown (Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, #1))
Our lives become beautiful not because we are perfect. Our lives become beautiful because we put our heart into what we are doing. It doesn't matter what we are doing. Whether we are sweeping the floor, or managing the country, or whatever we are doing. If we are putting our heart into what we are doing, it is beautiful to be doing that activity. Living in an atmosphere where people are passionate about what they are doing itself is highly enriching.
Sadhguru (Inner Management: In the Presence of the Master)
Get busy with the issue! In this regard, time is not friendly…nor should it be.
T.F. Hodge (From Within I Rise: Spiritual Triumph Over Death and Conscious Encounters with "The Divine Presence")
Your presence only truly matters to those who cannot bear your absence.
Matshona Dhliwayo
Unplanned work is what prevents you from doing it. Like matter and antimatter, in the presence of unplanned work, all planned work ignites with incandescent fury, incinerating everything around it.
Gene Kim (The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win)
History is ending because the dominator culture has led the human species into a blind alley, and as the inevitable chaostrophie approaches, people look for metaphors and answers. Every time a culture gets into trouble it casts itself back into the past looking for the last sane moment it ever knew. And the last sane moment we ever knew was on the plains of Africa 15,000 years ago rocked in the cradle of the Great Horned Mushroom Goddess before history, before standing armies, before slavery and property, before warfare and phonetic alphabets and monotheism, before, before, before. And this is where the future is taking us because the secret faith of the twentieth century is not modernism, the secret faith of the twentieth century is nostalgia for the archaic, nostalgia for the paleolithic, and that gives us body piercing, abstract expressionism, surrealism, jazz, rock-n-roll and catastrophe theory. The 20th century mind is nostalgic for the paradise that once existed on the mushroom dotted plains of Africa where the plant-human symbiosis occurred that pulled us out of the animal body and into the tool-using, culture-making, imagination-exploring creature that we are. And why does this matter? It matters because it shows that the way out is back and that the future is a forward escape into the past. This is what the psychedelic experience means. Its a doorway out of history and into the wiring under the board in eternity. And I tell you this because if the community understands what it is that holds it together the community will be better able to streamline itself for flight into hyperspace because what we need is a new myth, what we need is a new true story that tells us where we're going in the universe and that true story is that the ego is a product of pathology, and when psilocybin is regularly part of the human experience the ego is supressed and the supression of the ego means the defeat of the dominators, the materialists, the product peddlers. Psychedelics return us to the inner worth of the self, to the importance of the feeling of immediate experience - and nobody can sell that to you and nobody can buy it from you, so the dominator culture is not interested in the felt presence of immediate experience, but that's what holds the community together. And as we break out of the silly myths of science, and the infantile obsessions of the marketplace what we discover through the psychedelic experience is that in the body, IN THE BODY, there are Niagaras of beauty, alien beauty, alien dimensions that are part of the self, the richest part of life. I think of going to the grave without having a psychedelic experience like going to the grave without ever having sex. It means that you never figured out what it is all about. The mystery is in the body and the way the body works itself into nature. What the Archaic Revival means is shamanism, ecstacy, orgiastic sexuality, and the defeat of the three enemies of the people. And the three enemies of the people are hegemony, monogamy and monotony! And if you get them on the run you have the dominators sweating folks, because that means your getting it all reconnected, and getting it all reconnected means putting aside the idea of separateness and self-definition through thing-fetish. Getting it all connected means tapping into the Gaian mind, and the Gaian mind is what we're calling the psychedelic experience. Its an experience of the living fact of the entelechy of the planet. And without that experience we wander in a desert of bogus ideologies. But with that experience the compass of the self can be set, and that's the idea; figuring out how to reset the compass of the self through community, through ecstatic dance, through psychedelics, sexuality, intelligence, INTELLIGENCE. This is what we have to have to make the forward escape into hyperspace.
Terence McKenna
Love happened. Love came to show you that you could be more than you could ever imagine, because love forced you out of the narrows of yourself and thrust you into a vastness that stretched from one end of time to the other. Nothing mattered except being in the presence of love, the greatest beauty of all.
Julius Lester (Cupid: A Tale of Love and Desire)
He was furious with me. I didn’t care. He was back. He was alive. My heart did a flip- flop. I thrilled to his presence. I would anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances. No matter what he was, what he’d done.
Karen Marie Moning (Shadowfever (Fever, #5))
no matter how good things get in this world, it’s all Egypt! There will never be enough gold chains, fine linen, praise, adoration, or anything else to satisfy the yearning that God has placed in us. Only his presence in the Land of Promise will satisfy his people.
Voddie T. Baucham Jr. (Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colors: Reading an Old Story in a New Way)
It isn't just the physical presence of the father that matters- it's his engagement and involvement. An emotionally remote or rejecting or actively punitive father leads to girls' feeling pretty apprehensive around men.
Victoria Secunda (Women and Their Fathers: The Sexual and Romantic Impact of the First Man in Your Life)
Books are essential to me. I cannot live without them, because I cannot live without reading. But, Arry has just said to me, you can always borrow them so why buy them? I don't buy books just to collect them. I'm not a collector. I'm not interested in them as objects that might be valuable one day, regardless of what they are about, nor do I want to own every book ever written by one particular author or on one particular subject. I buy them because I want to read them, and I keep them because I've read them. I can't afford to buy all the ones I'd like to, so I have to borrow quite a few, and this has taught me something about myself, which I haven't heard anyone else admit. When I've read a book which I really like, a book which MATTERS, I feel it belongs to me. I mean, the book itself, the copy I've read. It's as if I pour myself onto the pages as I read them, all my thoughts and emotions, so that by the time I've finished that copy holds inside it the essence of my reading. A borrowed book has to be returned, so I lose this essence of myself when I give it back. Besides which, a borrowed book has inside it something of everyone else who's read it. They've fingered it and pawed over it, breathed on it, done heaven knows what else as well as read it. And knowing this spoils my reading. The other readers get in my way. I can feel their presence on the cover and on the pages. They even make it smell differently from my own books. In fact, to my mind they've polluted the book and everything in it. That is also why I never buy second-hand books.
Aidan Chambers (This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn)
Even though people are shallow and lots of people prefer scripted fictional heroes to real human beings, they can still be shaken out of it in the presence of someone who is REAL. Your problem is not that you haven’t mastered the conversational skills necessary to maintain someone’s interest. Your problem is that you’ve never forced yourself to define exactly who you are and what you love and how you want to live. You’ve never had to talk about these things passionately. You’ve never dared to lay yourself bare, without apology. Once you can look someone in the eyes and say, “Here’s what really matters to me”? That’s what people find attractive, trust me. They want to be with someone who knows himself and gives a shit. That’s what’s alluring and attractive and irreplaceable, even in this age of smooth make-believe.
Heather Havrilesky (How to Be a Person in the World: Ask Polly's Guide Through the Paradoxes of Modern Life)
Members of the Coyote Clan are not easily identified, but there are clues. You can see it in their eyes. They are joyful and they are fierce. They can cry louder and laugh harder than anyone on the planet. And they have an enormous range. The Coyote Clan is a raucous bunch: they have drunk from desert potholes and belched forth toads. They tell stories with such virtuosity that you'll swear you've been in the presence of preachers. The Coyote Clan is also serene. They can float on their backs down the length of any river or lose entire afternoons to the contemplation of stone. Members of the Clan court risk and will dance on slickrock as flash floods erode the ground beneath their feet. It doesn't matter. They understand the earth re-creates itself day after day.
Terry Tempest Williams (An Unspoken Hunger: Stories from the Field)
No matter how much and how often - 'things' will never compensate for loss or absence...no matter how guilty a parent feels.
T.F. Hodge (From Within I Rise: Spiritual Triumph Over Death and Conscious Encounters with "The Divine Presence")
We always become what we behold; the presence that we practice matters.
Richard Rohr (The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation)
To perceive matter that casts no shadow, you must search not for its presence but for its consequence.
Robert Macfarlane (Underland: A Deep Time Journey)
Living in the kingdom of God is a matter of living with God's action in our lives.
Dallas Willard (Living in Christ's Presence: Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God)
No matter how much he loved someone, he still couldn't share his life with them. He needed solitary time every day to concentrate, and he couldn't stand it when someone's presence threw off his concentration. If he lived with someone he knew he would end up detesting them. Whether it was his parents, a wife, or children. He feared that above all. He wasn't afraid of loving someone. What he feared was growing to hate someone.
Haruki Murakami (Killing Commendatore)
I know your race. It is made up of sheep. It is governed by minorities, seldom or never by majorities. It suppresses its feelings and its beliefs and follows the handful that makes the most noise. Sometimes the noisy handful is right, sometimes wrong; but no matter, the crowd follows it. The vast majority of the race, whether savage or civilized, are secretly kind-hearted and shrink from inflicting pain, but in the presence of the aggressive and pitiless minority they don't dare to assert themselves. Think of it! One kind-hearted creature spies upon another, and sees to it that he loyally helps in iniquities which revolt both of them. Speaking as an expert, I know that ninety- nine out of a hundred of your race were strongly against the killing of witches when that foolishness was first agitated by a handful of pious lunatics in the long ago. And I know that even to-day, after ages of transmitted prejudice and silly teaching, only one person in twenty puts any real heart into the harrying of a witch. And yet apparently everybody hates witches and wants them killed. Some day a handful will rise up on the other side and make the most noise--perhaps even a single daring man with a big voice and a determined front will do it--and in a week all the sheep will wheel and follow him, and witch-hunting will come to a sudden end. Monarchies, aristocracies, and religions are all based upon that large defect in your race--the individual's distrust of his neighbor, and his desire, for safety's or comfort's sake, to stand well in his neighbor's eye. These institutions will always remain, and always flourish, and always oppress you, affront you, and degrade you, because you will always be and remain slaves of minorities. There was never a country where the majority of the people were in their secret hearts loyal to any of these institutions.
Mark Twain (The Mysterious Stranger)
Hart was surprised how much Ian's silent presence comforted him. His volatile little brother, who'd needed so much help in the past, was now a rock in the roilling stream of Hart's world. I can always find you, Ian had told him once. He'd meant that he'd know when Hart needed him, would be there, no matter what.
Jennifer Ashley (A Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift (MacKenzies & McBrides, #4.5))
A life thus names a restless activeness, a destructive-creative force-presence that does not coincide fully with any specific body. A life tear the fabric of the actual without ever coming fully 'out' in a person, place, or thing. A life points to ... 'matter in variation that enters assemblages and leaves them. A life is a vitality proper not to any individual but to 'pure immanence,' or that protean swarm that is not actual though it is real: 'A life contains only virtuals. It is made of virtualities.
Jane Bennett (Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things)
None were good enough for her, so I held them in contempt and hated them. They in turn hated and feared me. But we were pleasant to each other. Always pleasant. It was a game of sorts. He would invite me to sit, and I would buy him a drink. The three of us would talk, and his eyes would slowly grow dark as he watched her smile toward me. His mouth would narrow as he listened to the laughter that leapt from her as I joked, spun stories, sang. . . . They would always react the same way, trying to prove ownership of her in small ways. Holding her hand, a kiss, a too-casual touch along her shoulder. They clung to her with desperate determination. Some of them merely resented my presence, saw me as a rival. But others had a frightened knowledge buried deep behind their eyes from the beginning. They knew she was leaving, and they didn't know why. So they clutched at her like shipwrecked sailors, clinging to the rocks despite the fact that they are being battered to death against them. I almost felt sorry for them. Almost. So they hated me, and it shone in their eyes when Denna wasn't looking. I would offer to buy another round of drinks, but he would insist, and I would graciously accept, and thank him, and smile. I have known her longer, my smile said. True, you have been inside the circle of her arms, tasted her mouth, felt the warmth of her, and that is something I have never had. But there is a part of her that is only for me. You cannot touch it, no matter how hard you might try. And after she has left you I will still be here, making her laugh. My light shining in her. I will still be here long after she has forgotten your name.
Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1))
It was long before I could believe that human learning had no clear answer to this question. For a long time it seemed to me, as I listened to the gravity and seriousness wherewith Science affirmed its positions on matters unconnected with the problem of life, that I must have misunderstood something. For a long time I was timid in the presence in learning, and I fancied that the insufficiency of the answers which I received was not its fault, but was owing to my own gross ignorance, but this thing was not a joke or a pastime with me, but the business of my life, and I was at last forced, willy-nilly, to the conclusion that these questions of mine were the only legitimate questions underlying all knowledge, and that it was not I that was in fault in putting them, but science in pretending to have an answer for them.
Leo Tolstoy (A Confession)
Our schools will not improve if we continue to focus only on reading and mathematics while ignoring the other studies that are essential elements of a good education. Schools that expect nothing more of their students than mastery of basic skills will not produce graduates who are ready for college or the modern workplace. *** Our schools will not improve if we value only what tests measure. The tests we have now provide useful information about students' progress in reading and mathematics, but they cannot measure what matters most in education....What is tested may ultimately be less important that what is untested... *** Our schools will not improve if we continue to close neighborhood schools in the name of reform. Neighborhood schools are often the anchors of their communities, a steady presence that helps to cement the bond of community among neighbors. *** Our schools cannot improve if charter schools siphon away the most motivated students and their families in the poorest communities from the regular public schools. *** Our schools will not improve if we continue to drive away experienced principals and replace them with neophytes who have taken a leadership training course but have little or no experience as teachers. *** Our schools cannot be improved if we ignore the disadvantages associated with poverty that affect children's ability to learn. Children who have grown up in poverty need extra resources, including preschool and medical care.
Diane Ravitch (The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education)
But as a child of God, there is something especially encouraging you need to remember today: God can do more in one moment than you can do in a lifetime. There is no situation that intimidates Him. There is no mess, no dysfunction, no abuse, no pain that He can’t heal. One word from God, one moment in His presence, can change the entire course of your life.
Joyce Meyer (You Can Begin Again: No Matter What, It's Never Too Late)
That useless thoughts spoil all: that the mischief began there; but that we ought to reject them, as soon as we perceived their impertinence to the matter in hand, or our salvation; and return to our communion with GOD.
Brother Lawrence (The Practice of the Presence of God (Living Library))
I’ve never attended a Quaker service before.” “We believe that true religion is a personal encounter with God rather than a matter of ritual and ceremony, and that all aspects of life are sacramental. Therefore, no one day or place or activity is any more spiritual than any other. But we gather together at such times to discover in stillness a deeper sense of God’s presence.
C.S. Harris (Where Serpents Sleep (Sebastian St. Cyr, #4))
If God allows you to wrestle with him, it is not so there will be a winner and a loser. He doesn’t need to prove he is stronger and you are weaker. No. The point of wrestling with God is to give you an opportunity to cling to him. God wants you to hang on to him no matter what — and the result will be blessing. You are blessed when you bring your hurts and questions to God and struggle with them in his presence. In that divine wrestling match, you may feel wounded, but you will also receive a blessing you couldn’t have received any other way.
Jennifer Rothschild (God Is Just Not Fair: Finding Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense)
just because society dictates certain norms and delivers them on a packhorse of guilt, it doesn’t mean we have to climb on. You deserve to be treated with respect by everyone you choose to have in your life. You deserve to be accepted for who you are. You have the right to be yourself because there is only one you. I think Dr. Seuss said it, didn’t he? Something about there is no one you-er than you?” She smiles. “My young friend, if someone does not grant you the respect you are due as a human being, no matter what their relationship to you, friend or blood, you have no obligation to suffer their presence in your life.
Eliza Gordon (Neurotica)
the company was just a vehicle for Elizabeth and Sunny’s romance and that none of the work they did really mattered. Ian nodded. “It’s a folie à deux,” he said. Tony didn’t know any French, so he left to go look up the expression in the dictionary. The definition he found struck him as apt: “The presence of the same or similar delusional ideas in two persons closely associated with one another.
John Carreyrou (Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup)
[O]nly if the form of Christ can be lived out in the community of the church is the confession of the church true; only if Christ can be practiced is Jesus Lord. No matter how often the subsequent history of the church belied this confession, it is this presence within time of an eschatological and dvine peace, really incarnate in the person of Jesus and forever imparted to the body of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, that remains the very essence of the church's evangelical appeal to the world at large, and of the salvation it proclaims. (1-2)
David Bentley Hart (The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth)
It takes a warrior's courage to acknowledge that your point of view matters, that your truth matters, that your gifts matter, and that your presence on this earth matters. You don't have to earn this right; it's yours as part of your birthright.
Debbie Ford (Courage: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self-Confidence)
Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes — a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder. And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night. Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… . And one fine morning —— So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)
Kilorn is a shadow through the tall grass, parting green stalks with able hands. He hardly leaves a trail, not that it matters. With Cal crashing along behind me, his broad bulk trampling everything in his path, there’s no point in masking our presence.
Victoria Aveyard (Glass Sword (Red Queen, #2))
I push a clump of very wet hair out of my face and try to look dignified. It's not like it really matters in the long run, considering I'm in the presence of a boy who is wearing a T-shirt with a dinosaur riding a tricycle screen printed on it. I think that says a lot.
Mara Dabrishus
Seen without the suddenness of surprise, there was nothing frightening about the dead man; there never is. No matter how ugly the manner in which a man dies, it’s only the presence of a suffering human soul that is horrifying; once gone, what is left is only an object.
Diana Gabaldon (Outlander (Outlander, #1))
The secret to patience is presence
Angela Watson (Unshakeable: 20 Ways to Enjoy Teaching Every Day...No Matter What)
No matter how you look at it, you are both humanity and presence.
Deborah Sandella
WONDER WITHOUT WILLPOWER Love’s way becomes a pen sometimes writing g-sounds like gold or r-sounds like tomorrow in different calligraphy styles sliding by, darkening the paper Now it’s held upside down, now beside the head, now down and on to something else, figuring. One sentence saves an illustrious man from disaster, but fame does not matter to the split tongue of a pen. Hippocrates knows how the cure must go. His pen does not. This one I am calling pen, or sometimes flag, has no mind. You, the pen, are most sanely insane. You cannot be spoken of rationally. Opposites are drawn into your presence but not to be resolved. You are not whole or ever complete. You are the wonder without willpower going where you want.
Rumi (The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing)
For those who are afflicted with book lust, those for whom reading is more than information or escape, the road to our passion is quite simple, paved merely by the presence of the printed matter. It's a common story; fill in your own blanks: I was -- years old when I happened on a novel called --, and within six months I had read every other book by the writer known as --.
Lewis Buzbee (The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History)
Here’s a little nugget I’ve learned in life about the secret to being a good friend: when words won’t suffice, lend an ear. When you can’t march into a courtroom or a conference room or a classroom and lay the smack down, lend your shoulder to cry on. When you don’t have money for expensive presents, offer your simple presence. And when you don’t know what else to do for someone, pray for him or her. It does matter. It is enough. It will be remembered for years to come.
Mandy Hale (I've Never Been to Vegas, but My Luggage Has: Mishaps and Miracles on the Road to Happily Ever After)
Because consciousness is awareness, awareness is paying attention, and paying attention is being present and noticing, this consciousness would be aware of when I was present and when I wasn’t. I would have to be totally present when I interacted with this mind; my presence would have to match its presence, my will would have to match its will, and my mind would have to match its mind.
Joe Dispenza (You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter)
There are moments, and it is only a matter of five or six seconds, when you feel the presence of the eternal harmony . . . a terrible thing is the frightful clearness with which it manifests itself and the rapture with which it fills you. If this state were to last more than five seconds, the soul could not endure it and would have to disappear. During these five seconds I live a whole human existence, and for that I would give my whole life and not think that I was paying too dearly . . .
Oliver Sacks (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat)
A canon is a guarded catalogue of that speech, music and art which houses inside us, which is irrevocably familiar to our homecomings. And this will include, if honestly arrived at and declared (even if solely to oneself), all manner of ephemera, trivial, and possibly mendacious matter…No manor woman need justify his personal anthology, his canonic welcomes. Love does not argue its necessities.
George Steiner (Real Presences)
Meditation has nothing to do with achieving a result. It is not a matter of breathing in a particular way, or looking at your nose, or awakening the power to perform certain tricks, or any of the rest of that immature nonsense…. Meditation is not something apart from life. When you are driving a car or sitting in a bus, when you are chatting aimlessly, when you are walking by yourself in a wood or watching a butterfly being carried along by the wind—to be choicelessly aware of all that is part of meditation.
Jiddu Krishnamurti (The Book of Life: Daily Meditations with Krishnamurti)
There are people, primarily women!--who are what I call 'conduits of emotion.' In their company, the half dead can come alive. They need not be beautiful women or girls. It's a matter of blood warmth. The integrity of the spirit." He turned the page of his sketch pad and began anew, whistling thinly through his teeth. "Thus an icy-cold soul, in the presence of one so blessed, can regain something of his lost self. Sometimes!
Joyce Carol Oates (Small Avalanches and Other Stories)
Sabbath still matters and we need the challenge it offers against impatience and idolatry. We need the practiced dependence it requires. And we need rest! We need God! And most of the time we are moving too fast to answer his call to be with him. This is the silver lining of the Sabbath cloud...the profound security of his presence...stopping long enough to remember how much he loves us. These help us to wait in larger ways.
Marcia Lebhar
What I felt then was a deep terror. And a kind of hopelessness, a feeling that I could never run away from this thing, no matter how far I went. And this creature, this thing doesn't give a damn that I'm me or you're you. In its presence, all human beings lose their names and their faces. We all turn into signs, into numbers.
Haruki Murakami (After Dark)
Do you know why I gave my daughter permission to marry your father?” “No,” Bailey says. It is not a topic that has ever been discussed in his presence, though Caroline once told him in secret she heard it was something of a scandal. Even almost twenty years later, his father never sets foot in his grandmother’s house, nor does she ever come out to Concord. “Because she would have run off with him regardless,” she says. “That was what she wished. It would not have been my choice for her, but a child should not have their choices dictated for them...Follow your dreams, Bailey,” she says. “Be they Harvard or something else entirely. No matter what that father of yours says, or how loudly he might say it. He forgets that he was someone’s dream once, himself.
Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus)
Beauty! Wasn't that what mattered? Beauty was hardly a popular ideal at that jumpy moment in history. The masses had been desensitized to it, the intelligentsia regarded it with suspicion. To most of her peers, 'beauty' smacked of the rarefied, the indulgent, the superfluous, the effete. How could persons of good conscience pursue the beautiful when there was so much suffering and injustice in the world? Ellen Cherry's answer was that if one didn't cultivate beauty, soon he or she wouldn't be able to recognize ugliness. The prevalence of social ugliness made commitment to physical beauty all the more essential. And the very presence in life of double-wide mobile homes, Magic Marker graffiti, and orange shag carpeting had the effect of making ills such as poverty, crime, repression, pollution, and child abuse seem tolerable. In a sense, beauty was the ultimate protest, and, in that it generally lasted longer than an orgasm, the ultimate refuge. The Venus de Milo screamed 'No!' at evil, whereas the Spandex stretch pant, the macrame plant holder were compliant with it. Ugly bedrooms bred ugly habits. Of course, it wasn't required of beauty that it perform a social function. That was what was valuable about it.
Tom Robbins (Skinny Legs and All)
To the extent that you actually realize that you are not, for example, your anxieties, then your anxieties no longer threaten you. Even if anxiety is present, it no longer overwhelms you because you are no longer exclusively tied to it. You are no longer courting it, fighting it, resisting it, or running from it. In the most radical fashion, anxiety is thoroughly accepted as it is and allowed to move as it will. You have nothing to lose, nothing to gain, by its presence or absence, for you are simply watching it pass by. Thus, any emotion, sensation, thought, memory, or experience that disturbs you is simply one with which you have exclusively identified yourself, and the ultimate resolution of the disturbance is simply to dis-identify with it. You cleanly let all of them drop away by realizing that they are not you--since you can see them, they cannot be the true Seer and Subject. Since they are not your real self, there is no reason whatsoever for you to identify with them, hold on to them, or allow your self to be bound by them. Slowly, gently, as you pursue this dis-identification "therapy," you may find that your entire individual self (persona, ego, centaur), which heretofore you have fought to defend and protect, begins to go transparent and drop away. Not that it literally falls off and you find yourself floating, disembodied, through space. Rather, you begin to feel that what happens to your personal self—your wishes, hopes, desires, hurts—is not a matter of life-or-death seriousness, because there is within you a deeper and more basic self which is not touched by these peripheral fluctuations, these surface waves of grand commotion but feeble substance. Thus, your personal mind-and-body may be in pain, or humiliation, or fear, but as long as you abide as the witness of these affairs, as if from on high, they no longer threaten you, and thus you are no longer moved to manipulate them, wrestle with them, or subdue them. Because you are willing to witness them, to look at them impartially, you are able to transcend them. As St. Thomas put it, "Whatever knows certain things cannot have any of them in its own nature." Thus, if the eye were colored red, it wouldn't be able to perceive red objects. It can see red because it is clear, or "redless." Likewise, if we can but watch or witness our distresses, we prove ourselves thereby to be "distress-less," free of the witnessed turmoil. That within which feels pain is itself pain-less; that which feels fear is fear-less; that which perceives tension is tensionless. To witness these states is to transcend them. They no longer seize you from behind because you look at them up front.
Ken Wilber (No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth)
And since today’s all there is for now, that’s everything. Who knows if I’ll be dead the day after tomorrow? If I’m dead the day after tomorrow, the thunderstorm day after tomorrow Will be another thunderstorm than if I hadn’t died. Of course I know thunderstorms don’t fall because I see them, But if I weren’t in the world, The world would be different — There would be me the less — And the thunderstorm would fall on a different world and would be another thunderstorm. No matter what happens, what’s falling is what’ll be falling when it falls. (7/10/1930)
Alberto Caeiro (The Collected Poems of Alberto Caeiro)
life, matter, and vitality, as the earth knows such things, are not necessarily constant; and that time and space do not exist as our waking selves comprehend them. Sometimes I believe that this less material life is our truer life, and that our vain presence on the terraqueous globe is itself the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon.
H.P. Lovecraft (The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft: 102 Horror Short Stories, Novels, Juvenelia, Collaborations and Ghost Writings)
Love in response to goodness isn’t love, but reward. Fortunately for us, that’s not God’s way. Our relationship with God is not a matter of reward, but of love. And that’s why we can enjoy such staggering freedom in his presence.
Steve Brown (A Scandalous Freedom)
Most people are afflicted with an inability to say what they see or think. They say there’s nothing more difficult than to define a spiral in words; they claim it is necessary to use the unliterary hand, twirling it in a steadily upward direction, so that human eyes will perceive the abstract figure immanent in wire spring and a certain type of staircase. But if we remember that to say is to renew, we will have no trouble defining a spiral; it’s a circle that rises without ever closing. I realize that most people would never dare to define it this way, for they suppose that defining is to say what others want us to say rather than what’s required for the definition. I’ll say it more accurately: a spiral is a potential circle that winds round as it rises, without ever completing itself. But no, the definition is still abstract. I’ll resort to the concrete, and all will become clear: a spiral is a snake without a snake, vertically wound around nothing. All literature is an attempt to make life real. All of us know, even when we act on what we don’t know, life is absolutely unreal in its directly real form; the country, the city and our ideas are absolutely fictitious things, the offspring of our complex sensation of our own selves. Impressions are incommunicable unless we make them literary. Children are particularly literary, for they say what they feel not what someone has taught them to feel. Once I heard a child, who wished to say that he was on the verge of tears, say not ‘I feel like crying’, which is what an adult, i.e., an idiot, would say but rather, ’ I feel like tears.’ And this phrase -so literary it would seem affected in a well-known poet, if he could ever invent it - decisively refers to the warm presence of tears about to burst from eyelids that feel the liquid bitterness. ‘I feel like tears’! The small child aptly defined his spiral. To say! To know how to say! To know how to exist via the written voice and the intellectual image! This is all that matters in life; the rest is men and women, imagined loves and factitious vanities, the wiles of our digestion and forgetfulness, people squirming- like worms when a rock is lifted - under the huge abstract boulder of the meaningless blue sky.
Fernando Pessoa (The Book of Disquiet)
Come, Spirits" she murmured; and was instantly fortified by a sense of the presence of the things that aren't there. There were the beautiful drowned statues, there were the glens and hills of an undiscovered country; there were divine musical notes, which, struck high up in the air, made one's heart beat with delight at the assurance that the world of things that aren't there was splendidly vigorous and far more real than the other. She felt that one never spoke of the things that mattered, but carried them about, until a note of music, or a sentence or a sight, joined hands with them.
Virginia Woolf (Melymbrosia)
You have the lovers, they are nameless, their histories only for each other, and you have the room, the bed, and the windows. Pretend it is a ritual. Unfurl the bed, bury the lovers, blacken the windows, let them live in that house for a generation or two. No one dares disturb them. Visitors in the corridor tip-toe past the long closed door, they listen for sounds, for a moan, for a song: nothing is heard, not even breathing. You know they are not dead, you can feel the presence of their intense love. Your children grow up, they leave you, they have become soldiers and riders. Your mate dies after a life of service. Who knows you? Who remembers you? But in your house a ritual is in progress: It is not finished: it needs more people. One day the door is opened to the lover's chamber. The room has become a dense garden, full of colours, smells, sounds you have never known. The bed is smooth as a wafer of sunlight, in the midst of the garden it stands alone. In the bed the lovers, slowly and deliberately and silently, perform the act of love. Their eyes are closed, as tightly as if heavy coins of flesh lay on them. Their lips are bruised with new and old bruises. Her hair and his beard are hopelessly tangled. When he puts his mouth against her shoulder she is uncertain whether her shoulder has given or received the kiss. All her flesh is like a mouth. He carries his fingers along her waist and feels his own waist caressed. She holds him closer and his own arms tighten around her. She kisses the hand besider her mouth. It is his hand or her hand, it hardly matters, there are so many more kisses. You stand beside the bed, weeping with happiness, you carefully peel away the sheets from the slow-moving bodies. Your eyes filled with tears, you barely make out the lovers, As you undress you sing out, and your voice is magnificent because now you believe it is the first human voice heard in that room. The garments you let fall grow into vines. You climb into bed and recover the flesh. You close your eyes and allow them to be sewn shut. You create an embrace and fall into it. There is only one moment of pain or doubt as you wonder how many multitudes are lying beside your body, but a mouth kisses and a hand soothes the moment away.
Leonard Cohen
He was very pleased with the position he was now in. But he was as ready to leave this job, if it came to that. He always enjoyed himself no matter what he was doing because he did everything, even the smallest things, for the love of God.
Marshall Davis (The Practice of the Presence of God In Modern English)
I had always liked staying the night with other families, having your own room with a freshly made bed, full of unfamiliar objects, with a towel and a washcloth nicely laid out, and from there straight into the heart of family life, despite there always being, no matter whom I visited, an uncomfortable side, because even though people always try to keep existing tensions in the background whenever guests are present, the tensions are still noticeable, and you can never know if it is your presence that has caused them or whether they are just there and indeed your presence is helping to suppress them. A third possibility is, of course, that all these tensions were just tensions that lived their own lives in my head.
Karl Ove Knausgård
Such a crises occurs only where the ever-lengthening chain of payments, and an artificial system of settling them, has been fully developed. Whenever there is a general and extensive disturbance of this mechanism, no matter what its cause, money becomes suddenly and immediately transformed from its merely ideal shape of money of account into hard cash. Profane commodities can no longer replace it. The use-value of commodities becomes valueless, and their value vanishes in the presence of its own independent form. On the eve of the crisis, the bourgeois, with the self-sufficiency that springs from intoxicating prosperity, declares money to be a vain imagination. Commodities alone are money. But now the cry is everywhere that money alone is a commodity! As the hart pants after fresh water, so pants his soul after money, the only wealth.
Karl Marx
We begin our journey to freedom when we go back to the places where we were spiritually, emotionally, and mentally wounded. But this time we go with God’s presence, help, and strength. No matter how frightening and messy it feels, God invites us to trust him. The Lord does some of his most beautiful work in the midst of the messiness and brokenness of our lives.
Sharon Garlough Brown (Sensible Shoes (Sensible Shoes #1))
Prayer is so simple. It is like quietly opening a door and slipping into the very presence of God. There, in the stillness, to listen to His voice, perhaps in petition or only to listen. It matters not. Just to be there in His presence is prayer.
Light Heart (The Practice of the Presence of God - Light Heart Edition)
You guys, you people, you all run on one big engine, all the same for everybody, the whole world over. Know the name of that engine? Love? she speculated. Good try but completely wrong, sorry. The name of the engine is story... If you want to get fancy, we could use the work narrative... And what does a narrative need? The presence of evil, that's what. Doity Toid and the Eel
Peter Straub
After several days, I had a pivotal interview with my teacher. When I described how I’d become so overwhelmed, she calmly asked, “How are you relating to the presence of desire?” I was startled into understanding. Her question pointed me back to the essence of mindfulness practice: It doesn’t matter what is happening. What matters is how we are relating to our experience. For me, desire had become the enemy, and I was losing the battle. She advised me to stop fighting my experience and instead investigate the nature of my wanting mind. Desire was just another passing phenomenon, she reminded me. It was attachment or aversion to it that was the problem.
Tara Brach (Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha)
Under the mystichood ofNameless Bride, we grope in Her Sacred Darkness for plasmatic encounter, the fifth ionized state of matter. Our mundane sight of differentation and separation recedes into the magickal Abyss of Blackness where all is touch. We feel each other as tactile presences whose extended dimension stretches to the stars only to coalesce beyond galactic expanses in the white and worm-holes of Her ever spiraling Gown of Worlds beyond Worlds. Let us feel Her concrescence as we stroke each unique form in the unfathomable dimensions of Her perfect formfulness - ever-changing, ever-new, ever-variable in the rainbow myriads of infinite spasms of delight.
Lady Svetlana
Cramming the stories of Israel into a modern mold of history writing not only makes the Bible look like utter nonsense; it also obscures what the Bible models for us about our own spiritual journey. On that journey, what matters most is not simply where we’ve been—the triumphs or the tragedies—but where we are with God now in the moment. All great spiritual leaders will tell us that living in the moment is key to vibrant communion with God. The now is where God’s presence is found, where neither past memories nor the future with its idle speculations dominates.
Peter Enns (The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It)
One day, you're in a physical landscape you share with this bizarre and fundamentally alien creature, not alien because she's female but alien because you're a fool in love and there's nothing not alien about that. And then when she's gone, you're alone and all the strangeness and wonder have gone out of the landscape and you're still a fool but now nobody notices how many days in a row you wear the same socks and cleaning the shower doesn't make the girl smile anymore so everything smells a little worse and doesn't get fixed when it breaks. I missed the feminine touch—not just hers, but mine. I missed being half-boy, half-girl, part of a whole. Now that I was male in a male environment, it was harder to manifest her physical chick presence, no matter how many of her MAC lipsticks I set out on the coffee table in a basket like so many M&Ms.
Rob Sheffield
While learning others, respect demands that one never takes issue with another's freedom to choose their 'get down' - their way of living... and don't be mad. But carefully listen, observe, and compare mental notes before you open your heart's desire -- to make a clear determination what's in your best interest. If you already know how the story ends, and it doesn't fit you, keep [the] proper distance in perspective, in any form(s) of relationship, for the love of self. It may be disappointing, but you'll eventually discover the right one deserving of your full attention. Or, you may be surprised by their sudden awakening to your worthiness. Walk slowly, especially, when it comes to matters of the heart.
T.F. Hodge (From Within I Rise: Spiritual Triumph Over Death and Conscious Encounters with "The Divine Presence")
You are the average of the people you spend the most time with. And that’s why it’s not always where you are in life, but who you have by your side that matters most. Some people drain you and others provide soul food. Spend more time with nice people who are smart, driven and open-minded about personal growth and opportunity. There’s no need to rush into a relationship you are unsure of, or socialize with those who hold you back. Be sure to get in the company of those who feed your spirit, and give the gift of your absence to those who do not appreciate your presence.
John Geiger
Most of us will. We'll choose knowledge no matter what, we'll maim ourselves in the process, we'll stick our hands into the flames for it if necessary. Curiosity is not our only motive: love or grief or despair or hatred is what drives us on. We'll spy relentlessly on the dead: we'll open their letters, we'll read their journals, we'll go through their trash, hoping for a hint, a final word, an explanation, from those who have deserted us--who've left us holding the bag, which is often a good deal emptier than we'd supposed. But what about those who plant such clues, for us to stumble on? Why do they bother? Egotism? Pity? Revenge? A simple claim to existence, like scribbling your initials on a washroom wall? The combination of presence and anonymity--confession without penance, truth without consequences--it has its attractions. Getting the blood off your hands, one way or another. Those who leave such evidence can scarcely complain if strangers come along afterwards and poke their noses into every single thing that would once have been none of their business. And not only strangers: lovers, friends, relations. We're voyeurs, all of us. Why should we assume that anything in the past is ours for the taking, simply because we've found it? We're all grave robbers, once we open the doors locked by others. But only locked. The rooms and their contents have been left intact. If those leaving them had wanted oblivion, there was always fire.
Margaret Atwood (The Blind Assassin)
Examples of fractals are everywhere in nature. They can be found in the patterns of trees, branches, and ferns, in which each part appears to be a smaller image of the whole. They are found in the branch-like patterns of river systems, lightning, and blood vessels. They can be seen in snowflakes, seashells, crystals, and mountain ranges. We can even see the holographic and fractal-like nature of reality in the structure of the Universe itself, as the clusters of galaxies and dark matter resemble the neurons in our brain, the mycelium network of fungi, as well as the network of the man-made Internet.
Joseph P. Kauffman (The Answer Is YOU: A Guide to Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Freedom)
The beautiful unruliness of literature is what makes it so much fun to wander through: you read Jane Austen and you say, oh, that is IT. And then you turn around and read Sterne, and you say, Man, that is IT. And then you wander across a century or so, and you run into Kafka, or Calvino, or Cortazar, and you say, well that is IT. And then you stroll through what Updike called the grottos of Ulysses, and after that you consort with Baldwin or Welty or Spencer, or Morrison, or Bellow or Fitzgerald and then back to W. Shakespeare, Esq; the champ, and all the time you feel the excitement of being in the presence of IT. And when you yourself spend the good time writing, you are not different in kind than any of these people, you are part of that miracle of human invention. So get to work. Get on with IT, no matter how difficult IT is. Every single gesture, every single stumble, every single uninspired-feeling hour, is worth IT." Richard Bausch
Kathy Fish
How baffling you are, oh Church, and yet how I love you! How you have made me suffer, and yet how much I owe you! I would like to see you destroyed, and yet I need your presence. You have given me so much scandal and yet you have made me understand what sanctity is. I have seen nothing in the world more devoted to obscurity, more compromised, more false, and yet I have touched nothing more pure, more generous, more beautiful. How often I have wanted to shut the doors of my soul in your face, and how often I have prayed to die in the safety of your arms. No, I cannot free myself from you, because I am you, though not completely. And besides, where would I go? Would I establish another? I would not be able to establish it without the same faults, for they are the same faults I carry in me. And if I did establish another, it would be my Church, not the Church of Christ. I am old enough to know that I am no better than anyone else. …) The Church has the power to make me holy but it is made up, from the first to the last, only of sinners. And what sinners! It has the omnipotent and invincible power to renew the Miracle of the Eucharist, but is made up of men who are stumbling in the dark, who fight every day against the temptation of losing their faith. It brings a message of pure transparency but it is incarnated in slime, such is the substance of the world. It speaks of the sweetness of its Master, of its non-violence, but there was a time in history when it sent out its armies to disembowel the infidels and torture the heretics. It proclaims the message of evangelical poverty, and yet it does nothing but look for money and alliances with the powerful. Those who dream of something different from this are wasting their time and have to rethink it all. And this proves that they do not understand humanity. Because this is humanity, made visible by the Church, with all its flaws and its invincible courage, with the Faith that Christ has given it and with the love that Christ showers on it. When I was young, I did not understand why Jesus chose Peter as his successor, the first Pope, even though he abandoned Him. Now I am no longer surprised and I understand that by founding his church on the tomb of a traitor(…)He was warning each of us to remain humble, by making us aware of our fragility. (…) And what are bricks worth anyway? What matters is the promise of Christ, what matters is the cement that unites the bricks, which is the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit is capable of building the church with such poorly moulded bricks as are we. And that is where the mystery lies. This mixture of good and bad, of greatness and misery, of holiness and sin that makes up the church…this in reality am I .(…) The deep bond between God and His Church, is an intimate part of each one of us. (…)To each of us God says, as he says to his Church, “And I will betroth you to me forever” (Hosea 2,21). But at the same time he reminds us of reality: 'Your lewdness is like rust. I have tried to remove it in vain. There is so much that not even a flame will take it away' (Ezechiel 24, 12). But then there is even something more beautiful. The Holy Spirit who is Love, sees us as holy, immaculate, beautiful under our guises of thieves and adulterers. (…) It’s as if evil cannot touch the deepest part of mankind. He re-establishes our virginity no matter how many times we have prostituted our bodies, spirits and hearts. In this, God is truly God, the only one who can ‘make everything new again’. It is not so important that He will renew heaven and earth. What is most important is that He will renew our hearts. This is Christ’s work. This is the divine Spirit of the Church.
Carlo Carretto
We must, however, reflect on what is happening. It is an urgent matter, especially for those of us who still live in a meaningful, even a numinous, earth community. We have not spoken. Nor even have we seen clearly what is happening. The issue goes far beyond economics, or commerce, or poetics, or an evening of pleasantries as we look out over a scenic view. Something is happening beyond all this. We are losing splendind and intimate modes of divine presence. We are, perhaps, losing ourselves.
Thomas Berry (The Dream of the Earth)
There is a story they tell, about a girl dared by her peers to venture to a local graveyard after dark. This was her folly: when they told her that standing on someone’s grave at night would cause the inhabitant to reach up and pull her under, she scoffed. Scoffing is the first mistake a woman can make. I will show you, she said. Pride is the second mistake. They gave her a knife to stick into the frosty earth, as a way of proving her presence and her theory. She went to that graveyard. Some storytellers say that she picked the grave at random. I believe she selected a very old one, her choice tinged by self-doubt and the latent belief that if she were wrong, the intact muscle and flesh of a newly dead corpse would be more dangerous than one centuries gone. She knelt on the grave and plunged the blade deep. As she stood to run she found she couldn’t escape. Something was clutching at her clothes. She cried out and fell down. When morning came, her friends arrived at the cemetery. They found her dead on the grave, the blade pinning the sturdy wool of her skirt to the ground. Dead of fright or exposure, would it matter when the parents arrived? She was not wrong, but it didn’t matter any more. Afterwards, everyone believed that she had wished to die, even though she had died proving that she could live. As it turns out, being right was the third, and worst, mistake.
Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties)
Even today, more than eighty years after Oort's bold guess, we still don't have a clue what this dark matter is made of. We know it exists. We know where it is. We have maps of its presence within and around galaxies throughout the universe. We even have stringent constraints on what it is not, but we have no clue what it is. And yes, its presence is overwhelming: for every one kilogram of ordinary matter made out of neutrons and protons and electrons, there are five kilograms of dark matter, made out of who-knows-what.
Christophe Galfard (The Universe in Your Hand: A Journey Through Space, Time, and Beyond)
It's more that those flaws become part of you, as a couple. And they make your strengths shine brighter, which is what allows that love to change. It's knowing someone deeply, and loving him or her in spite of the things that drive you crazy. And that, my sweet girl, takes time." "But I'm grateful for Gabe. For his presence in your life, however brief. Because no matter what happens now, or who else you decide to give your heart to, Gabe has helped shape who you are. And you have a beautiful heart, Tegan. The heart of a survivor." Dad to his daughter, Tegan
Karma Brown (Come Away with Me)
No matter how a child joins your family, their presence changes all the rules; they move into your heart and build new rooms, knock down walls you never knew existed. This is why new parents crave reassurance more than anything else: We tell ourselves, and want others to tell us, that we’re going to be wonderful parents. That our children will be happy. That their suffering will be light—or at least, never of a kind we cannot help them through. We have to believe these things, promise ourselves we’ll meet every challenge, or we’d never be brave enough to begin.
Nicole Chung (All You Can Ever Know)
The Otherworld does not supply the meaning of life. Rather, the Otherworld describes being alive. Life, in all its glory - warts and all, so to speak. The Otherworld provides meaning by example, by exhibition, by illustration if you will. ... Through the Otherworld we learn what it is be be alive, to be human: good and evil, heartbreak and ecstasy, victory and defeat, everything. ... where does one first learn loyalty? Or honor? Or any higher value, for that matter? ... Where does one learn to value the beauty of a forest and to revere it?' In nature?' Not at all. This can easily be proven by the fact that so many among us do not revere the forests at all - do not even see them, in fact. You know the people I am talking about. You have seen them and their works in the world. They are the ones who rape the land, who cut down forests and despoil oceans, who oppress the poor and tyrannize the helpless, who live their lives as if nothing lay beyond the horizon of their own limited earth-bound visions. But I digress. The question before us is this: where does one first learn to see a forest as a thing of beauty, to honor it, to hold it dear for its own sake, to recognize its true value as a forest, and not just see it as a source of timber to be exploited, or a barrier to be hacked down in order to make room for a motorway? ... the mere presence of the Otherworld kindles in us the spark of higher consciousness, or imagination. It is the stories and tale and visions of the Otherworld - that magical, enchanted land just beyond the walls of the manifest world - which awaken and expand in human beings the very notion of beauty, of reverence, of love and nobility, and all the higher virtues.
Stephen R. Lawhead (The Paradise War (The Song of Albion, #1))
Really, we're fighting because she raised me to never forget I was born on parole, which means no black hoodies in wrong neighborhoods, no jogging at night, hands in plain sight at all times in public, no intimate relationships with white women, never driving over the speed limit or doing those rolling stops at stop signs, always speaking the King's English in the presence of white folks, never being outperformed in school or in public by white students, and, most importantly, always remembering that no matter what, the worst of white folks will do anything to get you.
Kiese Laymon (How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America)
Here we come to the central question of this book: What, precisely, does it mean to say that our sense of morality and justice is reduced to the language of a business deal? What does it mean when we reduce moral obligations to debts? What changes when the one turns into the other? And how do we speak about them when our language has been so shaped by the market? On one level the difference between an obligation and a debt is simple and obvious. A debt is the obligation to pay a certain sum of money. As a result, a debt, unlike any other form of obligation, can be precisely quantified. This allows debts to become simple, cold, and impersonal-which, in turn, allows them to be transferable. If one owes a favor, or one’s life, to another human being-it is owed to that person specifically. But if one owes forty thousand dollars at 12-percent interest, it doesn’t really matter who the creditor is; neither does either of the two parties have to think much about what the other party needs, wants, is capable of doing-as they certainly would if what was owed was a favor, or respect, or gratitude. One does not need to calculate the human effects; one need only calculate principal, balances, penalties, and rates of interest. If you end up having to abandon your home and wander in other provinces, if your daughter ends up in a mining camp working as a prostitute, well, that’s unfortunate, but incidental to the creditor. Money is money, and a deal’s a deal. From this perspective, the crucial factor, and a topic that will be explored at length in these pages, is money’s capacity to turn morality into a matter of impersonal arithmetic-and by doing so, to justify things that would otherwise seem outrageous or obscene. The factor of violence, which I have been emphasizing up until now, may appear secondary. The difference between a “debt” and a mere moral obligation is not the presence or absence of men with weapons who can enforce that obligation by seizing the debtor’s possessions or threatening to break his legs. It is simply that a creditor has the means to specify, numerically, exactly how much the debtor owes.
David Graeber (Debt: The First 5,000 Years)
This disappearance, this annihilation is all a matter of appearances as seen through the eyes of the false self. The annihilation is only apparent, for the self being annihilated is itself only apparent. It is a self without God, that is, a self that can never exist. What is annihilated is our false self, our external self made absolute, the imposter, the mask (persona), the liar we think we are but are not. The annihilation therefore is not annihilation at all, for nothing real or genuine is annihilated. Rather, what is genuine is affirmed as our psychological, historical, social self and placed in its true relationship to God. All that is annihilated is the illusion of the self that cannot bear God's presence, save as an idol fabricated for the ego's own glorification. It is this "self" that is "annihilated" through God's merciful love. The annihilation is merciful for it, in fact, is the antithesis of annihilation. It is rather an obscure, inexplicable foretaste in faith of our final consummation as created persons. It is the mystery of the cross creatively at work in the foundations of consciousness, recreating our awareness that we might know God as he knows himself.
James Finley (Merton's Palace of Nowhere)
Spirit” comes from the Latin word “to breathe.” What we breathe is air, which is certainly matter, however thin. Despite usage to the contrary, there is no necessary implication in the word “spiritual” that we are talking of anything other than matter (including the matter of which the brain is made), or anything outside the realm of science. On occasion, I will feel free to use the word. Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or of acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.
Carl Sagan (The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark)
We are, in a certain way, defined as much by our potential as by its expression. There is a great difference between an acorn and a little bit of wood carved into an acorn shape, a difference not always readily apparent to the naked eye. The difference is there even if an acorn never has the opportunity to plant itself and become an oak. Remembering its potential changes the way in which we think of an acorn and react to it. How we value it. If an acorn were conscious, knowing its potential would change the way it might think and feel about itself. The Hindus use the greeting "Namaste" instead of our more noncommittal "Hello." The connotation of this is roughly, whatever your outer appearance, I see and greet the soul in you. There is a wisdom in such ways of relating. Sometimes we can best help other people by remembering that what we believe about them may be reflected back to them in our presence and may affect them in ways we do not fully understand. Perhaps a sense of possibility is communicated by our tone of voice, facial expression, or certain choice of words . . . Holding and conveying a sense of possibility does not mean making demands or having expectations. It may mean having no expectations, but simply being open to whatever promise the situation may hold and remembering the inability of anyone to know the future. Thoreau said that we must awaken and stay awake not by mechanical means, but by a constant expectation of the dawn. There's no need to demand the dawn, the dawn is simply a matter of time. And patience. And the dawn may look quite different from the story we tell ourselves about it. My experience has shown me the wisdom of remaining open to the possibility of growth in any and all circumstances, without ever knowing what shape that growth may take.
Rachel Naomi Remen (Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal)
Egos are drawn to bigger egos. Darkness cannot recognize light. Only light can recognize light. So don’t believe that the light is outside you or that it can only come through one particular form. If only your master is an incarnation of God, then who are you? Any kind of exclusivity is identification with form, and identification with form means ego, no matter how well disguised. Use the master’s presence to reflect your own identity beyond name and form back to you and to become more intensely present yourself. You will soon realize that there is no “mine” or “yours” in presence. Presence is one.
Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment)
A man's life is his whole life, not the last glimmering snuff of the candle; and this, I say, is considerable, and not a little matter, whether we regard its pleasures or its pains. To draw a peevish conclusion to the contrary from our own superannuated desires or forgetful indifference is about as reasonable as to say, a man never was young because he has grown old, or never lived because he is now dead. The length or agreeableness of a journey does not depend on the few last steps of it, nor is the size of a building to be judged of from the last stone that is added to it. It is neither the first nor last hour of our existence, but the space that parts these two - not our exit nor our entrance upon the stage, but what we do, feel, and think while there - that we are to attend to in pronouncing sentence upon it.
William Hazlitt (Table-Talk, Essays on Men and Manners)
Evie fought to contain a rush of eagerness, afraid of appearing foolishly infatuated with him. However, no matter how sternly she tamped her feelings down beneath the surface, they seemed to sift out like diamond dust, sparkling visibly in the air around her. The odd thing was, he seemed similarly glad to be in her presence, for once discarding the guise of a jaded rake, and smiling at her with genuine warmth.
Lisa Kleypas (Devil in Winter (Wallflowers, #3))
When I felt I was dying, these past few days, things were no longer anthropomorphic. The telephone, which looks like a sort of upturned black snake, was merely a telephone. Every thing was just a thing. The couch, which looked like a big square face drawn by Rubens, with buttons on the cover like wicked little eyes, was just a couch, rather shabby but nothing more. At such a time things don’t matter to you; you don’t bathe everything in your presence, like an amoeba. Things become innocent because you draw away from them; experience becomes virginal, as it was for the first man when he saw the valleys and the plains. You feel you are set in a tidy world: that is a door and it behaves like a door, that is white and behaves like white. What heaven: the symbolism of meanings loses all meaning. You see objects which are comforting because they are quite free. But suddenly you are flung into a new form of suffering because, when you come to miss the meaning of, say, a stool, reality suddenly becomes terrifying. Everything becomes monstrous, unattainable.
Federico Fellini (Fellini On Fellini)
No matter how daring or cautious you may choose to be, in the course of your life you are bound to come into direct physical contact with what’s known as Evil. I mean here not a property of the gothic novel but, to say the least, a palpable social reality that you in no way can control. No amount of good nature or cunning calculations will prevent this encounter. In fact, the more calculating, the more cautious you are, the greater is the likelihood of this rendezvous, the harder its impact. Such is the structure of life that what we regard as Evil is capable of a fairly ubiquitous presence if only because it tends to appear in the guise of good. You never see it crossing your threshold announcing itself: “Hi, I’m Evil!” That, of course, indicates its secondary nature, but the comfort one may derive from this observation gets dulled by its frequency.
Joseph Brodsky (Less Than One: Selected Essays)
Most of the church landscape in my lifetime has been heavily invested in trying to do something for Jerry or Sherri or some other icon of unchurchness. The problem is that they have been only about themselves from the moment they could wail for their mothers, and the decision to give them at church what they can find in any self-help book appears now as a choice to abandon the One in whose honor the church gathers. What they need is to be set free from themselves with finality and to be lost in the awesome wonder of the manifest presence of God. It was never God’s desire that He would sit on the sideline and watch us frantically devise impressive ways to reach people or simply hold the line on orthodoxy as though faithfulness can exist in a vacuum apart from fruitfulness. God is the Matter of first importance! Can you say that about your current weekly encounter with church?
James MacDonald (Vertical Church: What Every Heart Longs For. What Every Church Can Be.)
The earthly father is a God-given mnemonic device to remind us of the glory of the heavenly Father. The shepherd is a mnemonic device to remind us of God’s care for his own. The snow is meant to remind us of the Lord’s purity and holiness. The storm is a mnemonic device to remind us of God’s power and wrath. The daily rising sun is a mnemonic device to remind us of God’s faithfulness. We’re literally surrounded by gracious reminders of the presence, power, authority, and character of God because he designed created things to function mnemonically. He knows how quickly and easily we forget and how vital it is for us to remember, so he embedded reminders everywhere we look in his creation.
Paul David Tripp (Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do)
One way to demonstrate courtship as a matter of course in an established relationship is to remember that courtship is the act of trying to persuade someone to choose you—by demonstrating that you’ve chosen them. If you look at each day of your relationship as another opportunity to choose to be with the person you’re with, you’ll display those feelings of affection in your actions and your words—and you’ll refrain from taking that person’s presence for granted.
Sarah Wendell (Everything I Know about Love I Learned from Romance Novels)
As you sit, make peace also with the reality that, after you die, it won't matter to you how you are remembered; you will not be here to experience it. All the grand things that you do or say, all the skyscrapers you build and cover with gold, your elegant tombstone, all will be completely forgotten eventually. Even your children, and their children, too, will be forgotten. That being so, perhaps it is best to begin to erase your presence well before you leave the scene.
Alice Walker
Yet the enslavement of Africans—over 20 percent of the population—served as the linchpin of American democracy; that is, the much-heralded stability and continuity of American democracy was predicated upon black oppression and degradation. Without the presence of black people in America, European-Americans would not be "white"—they would be only Irish, Italians, Poles, Welsh, and others engaged in class, ethnic, and gender struggles over resources and identity. What made America distinctly American for them was not simply the presence of unprecedented opportunities, but the struggle for seizing these opportunities in a new land in which black slavery and racial caste served as the floor upon which white class, ethnic, and gender struggles could be diffused and diverted. In other words, white poverty could be ignored and whites' paranoia of each other could be overlooked primarily owing to the distinctive American feature: the basic racial divide of black and white peoples. From 1776 to 1964… this racial divide would serve as a basic presupposition for the expansive functioning of American democracy, even as the concentration of wealth and power remained in the hands of a Few well-to-do white men.
Cornel West (Race Matters)
Abundance is not the money you have in your bank account, the trophies on your shelf, the letters after your name, the list of goals reached, the number of people you know, your perfect, healthy body, your adoring fans. Abundance is your connection to each breath, how sensitive you are to every flicker of sensation and emotion in the body. It is the delight with which you savor each unique moment, the joy with which you greet each new day. It is knowing yourself as presence, the power that creates and moves worlds. It is your open heart, how deeply moved you are by love every day, your willingness to embrace, to hold what needs to be held. It is the freshness of each morning unencumbered by memory or false hope. Abundance is the feeling of the afternoon breeze on your cheeks, the sun warming your face. It is meeting others in the field of honesty and vulnerability, connecting beyond the story, sharing what is alive. It is your rootedness in the present moment, knowing that you are always Home, no matter what happens, no matter what is gained or lost. It is touching life at the point of creation, never looking back, feeling the belly rise and fall, thanking each breath, giving praise to each breath. It is falling to your knees in awe, laughing at the stories they tell about you, sinking more deeply into rest. Abundance is simplicity. It is kindness. It is you, before every sunrise: fresh, open, and awake. You are rich, friend! You are rich!
Jeff Foster (The Way of Rest: Finding The Courage to Hold Everything in Love)
What makes letting go so challenging is that we need to let go of far more than mere emotional pain—we need to let go of hope, of the fantasy in which we undo what went wrong, of the psychological presence the person or pet has in our daily thoughts, and thus, in our lives. We need to truly say good-bye—to turn away from love, even when there is no longer a person or animal there to receive it. And we need to let go of a part of ourselves, of the person we were when our love still mattered.
Guy Winch (How to Fix a Broken Heart (TED Books))
Before I go to sleep tonight; I will speak a nice prayer, I will let my worries leave my mind as silence fills the air. If I have a bed; to curl between the sheets, I am an inch more blessed; than the man, on the street. If I have a love to cuddle; in the comfort of my home, I am grateful, I still have their presence to tell them, I love them so. If I have healthy eyes, that I can choose to close; I am grateful for my sight, because some will never know. If I have a voice & glistening ears to listen; Than in all my glory, I am grateful for this livin' All that really matters; is what, most don't have the courage to see, Who you became; from the day of your birth, the dash and the final chapter that makes your story complete.
Nikki Rowe
Though we are addicted to instant gratification, we are seldom gratified because, although we are making everything possible now, we are seldom present to enjoy it now. The moment we attain our desire, our attention jumps out of the present and into planning our next acquisition. This creates a world that’s comfortable with living in debt, on borrowed time, and on somebody else’s energy. We no longer own our houses, cars, and clothes – the bank does. We have robbed ourselves of the satisfaction of organic accomplishment. There’s no more “rite of passage,” only the fast lane. Young children want to be teenagers, teenagers want to be adults, and adults want to accomplish a lifetime’s work before turning thirty. We spend each moment running ahead of ourselves, believing there’s a destination we are supposed to arrive at that’s saturated with endless happiness, acknowledgement, ease, and luxury. We are forever running away from something and toward something – and because everyone is behaving in this manner, we accept it as normal. We mentally leapfrog over the eternal present moment in everything we do, ignoring the flow of life. The Presence Process – including the consequences inherent in completing it – moves at a different pace. This journey isn’t about getting something done “as quickly as possible.” It’s about process, not instant gratification. The consequences we activate by completing this journey are made possible because of its gently unfolding integrative approach. By following the instructions carefully, taking one step at a time, being consistent and committed to completing the task at hand no matter what, we experience a rite of passage that reminds us of what “process” means. Realizing what “process” involves isn’t just a mental realization, but requires an integrated emotional, mental, and physical experience. Awakening to the value of process work is rare in a world of instant gratification. It powerfully impacts the quality of our experience because life in the present is an ongoing organic process. Realizing the power within the rhythm of process work may not necessarily impact our ability to earn a living, but it enhances our ability to open ourselves to the heartbeat of life.
Michael L. Brown (The Presence Process - A Journey Into Present Moment Awareness)
At some point, sisters began to talk about how unseen they have felt. How the media has focused on men, but it has been them - the sisters - who were there. They were there, in overwhelming numbers, just as they were during the civil rights movement. Women - all women, trans women - are roughly 80% of the people who were staring down the terror of Ferguson, saying “we are the caretakers of this community”. Is it women who are out there, often with their children, calling for an end to police violence, saying “we have a right to raise our children without fear”. But it is not women’s courage that is showcased in the media. One sister says “when the police move in we do not run, we stay. And for this, we deserve recognition”. Their words will live with us, will live in us, as Ferguson begins to unfold and as the national attention begins to really focus on what Alicia, Opal and I have started. The first time there’s coverage of Black Lives Matter in a way that is positive is on the Melissa Harris-Perry show. She does not invite us - it isn’t intentional, I’m certain of that. And about a year later she does, but in this early moment, and despite the overwhelming knowledge of the people on the ground who are talking about what Alicia, Opal and I have done, and despite of it being part of the historical record, that it is always women who do the work even as men get the praise. It takes a long time for us to occur to most reporters and the mainstream. Living in patriarchy means that the default inclination is to center men and their voices, not women and their work. The fact seems ever more exacerbated in our day and age, when presence on twitter, when the number of followers one has, can supplant the everyday and heralded work of those who, by virtue of that work, may not have time to tweet constantly or sharpen and hone their personal brand so that it is an easily sellable commodity. Like the women who organized, strategized, marched, cooked, typed up and did the work to ensure the civil rights movement; women whose names go unspoken, unknown, so too that this dynamic unfolds as the nation began to realize that we were a movement. Opal, Alicia and I never wanted or needed to be the center of anything. We were purposeful about decentralizing our role in the work, but neither did we want, nor deserved, to be erased.
Patrisse Khan-Cullors (When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir)
Abiding time is extravagant daily time with Jesus. This extravagant time is the center of abiding. Not legalism, not dry discipline, not manufactured spirituality, but joyous soaking in the presence of Jesus, lavish spending of time with Him who is most precious, Him from whom all life flows. In a world that is over-connected yet lonely, frantically busy yet accomplishing little of eternal value, super-informed but egregiously ignorant on what really matters, abiding gives Jesus the best of our time, in which He leads us to the best of times.
Missionaries Who Love The Arab World (Live Dead: The Journey)
Having proven that solitary pleasures are as delicious as any others and much more likely to delight, it becomes perfectly clear that this enjoyment, taken in independence of the objectwe employ, is not merely of a nature very remote from what could be pleasurable to thatobject, but is even found to be inimical to that object’s pleasure: what is more, it may becomean imposed suffering, a vexation, or a torture, and the only thing that results from this abuse isa very certain increase of pleasure for the despot who does the tormenting or vexing; let usattempt to demonstrate this.”Voluptuous emotion is nothing but a kind of vibration produced in our soul by shockswhich the imagination, inflamed by the remembrance of a lubricious object, registers uponour senses, either through this object’s presence, or better still by this object’s being exposedto that particular kind of irritation which most profoundly stirs us; thus, our voluptuoustransport Ä this indescribable convulsive needling which drives us wild, which lifts us to thehighest pitch of happiness at which man is able to arrive Ä is never ignited save by twocauses: either by the perception in the object we use of a real or imaginary beauty, the beautyin which we delight the most, or by the sight of that object undergoing the strongest possiblesensation; now, there is no more lively sensation than that of pain; its impressions are certainand dependable, they never deceive as may those of the pleasure women perpetually feign andalmost never experience; and, furthermore, how much self-confidence, youth, vigor, healthare not needed in order to be sure of producing this dubious and hardly very satisfyingimpression of pleasure in a woman. To produce the painful impression, on the contrary,requires no virtues at all: the more defects a man may have, the older he is, the less lovable,the more resounding his success. With what regards the objective, it will be far more certainlyattained since we are establishing the fact that one never better touches, I wish to say, that onenever better irritates one’s senses than when the greatest possible impression has been produced in the employed object, by no matter what devices; therefore, he who will cause themost tumultuous impression to be born in a woman, he who will most thoroughly convulsethis woman’s entire frame, very decidedly will have managed to procure himself the heaviest possible dose of voluptuousness, because the shock resultant upon us by the impressionsothers experience, which shock in turn is necessitated by the impression we have of thoseothers, will necessarily be more vigorous if the impression these others receive be painful,than if the impression they receive be sweet and mild; and it follows that the voluptuousegoist, who is persuaded his pleasures will be keen only insofar as they are entire, willtherefore impose, when he has it in his power to do so, the strongest possible dose of painupon the employed object, fully certain that what by way of voluptuous pleasure he extractswill be his only by dint of the very lively impression he has produced.
Marquis de Sade
But love unexplained is clearer. When pen hasted to write, On reaching the subject of love it split in twain. When the discourse touched on the matter of love, Pen was broken and paper torn. In explaining it Reason sticks fast, as an ass in mire; Naught but Love itself can explain love and lovers! None but the sun can display the sun, If you would see it displayed, turn not away from it. Shadows, indeed, may indicate the sun's presence, But only the sun displays the light of life. Shadows induce slumber, like evening talks, But when the sun arises the "moon is split asunder." 3 In the world there is naught so wondrous as the sun, But the Sun of the soul sets not and has no yesterday. Though the material sun is unique and single, We can conceive similar suns like to it. But the Sun of the soul, beyond this firmament, No like thereof is seen in concrete or abstract.4
Rumi (The Masnavi I Manavi of Rumi Complete 6 Books)
How to appreciate the beauty of a woman: First, close your eyes without any lust or sexual desire, then feel the softness of her body, her delicate hands, her eyes, her lips, her breasts, her thighs. Second, soak your soul in her mind, feel the vortex of her inner needs and desires, listen to the rhythmic sound of her joys and sorrows, and tiptoe on the matrix of her dreams and longings. As soon as you imagine and understand these nuances in a woman, you’ll immediately feel a strange sensation of warmth and nurturing presence, almost maternal, like a gentle breeze in the sea or the fragrance of flowers in the forest. You see, her beauty does not reside in her physical appearance—whoever she is and no matter how she looks—because she, the woman herself, is the definition, the embodiment, and the birthplace of beauty. (Danny Castillones Sillada, The Phenomenology of Beauty in a Woman)
Danny Castillones Sillada
The spiritual life and especially its expression in mystical experience, is not so much a matter of striving for heights of mystical union between the soul and God who is utterly different from us. It is rather more a matter of attending to God’s presence with us and responding to God’s presence by being altogether present to the divine presence which is always near. The long history of Christian spirituality has to do with the various ways of responding to God’s presence and participating ever more fully in the divine life altogether present in human life, history, the world and the church.
Michael Downey (Understanding Christian Spirituality)
You are already part of a family," Desari reminded him,her body brushing his, her arms circling his waist from behind. She had materialized out of nowhere,her presence filling the healing chamber. She was there.Completing him. His air. His heart.The part of his soul that really lived and loved and mattered. Without conscious thought he sent up a quick prayer of thanks that he had been granted such a priceless treasure when he felt so undeserving of her. Julian loved the way she smelled. He inhaled, and her scent washed over him, clean and sexy. "This mess? With all these males?" Julian allowed a low, rumbling growl to escape. "This is no family. This is a man's nightmare." Desari deliberately moved against him, her body soft and pliant with invitation. "Is that what you think?" "What I think is"-Julian circled her slender throat with his large hand in mock threat- "you are deliberately tempting me when I have important, pressing business to atttend to.
Christine Feehan (Dark Challenge (Dark, #5))
My Darling, It is late at night and though the words are coming hard to me, I can’t escape the feeling that it’s time that I finally answer your question. Of course I forgive you. I forgive you now, and I forgave you the moment I read your letter. In my heart, I had no other choice. Leaving you once was hard enough; to have done it a second time would have been impossible. I loved you too much to have let you go again. Though I’m still grieving over what might have been, I find myself thankful that you came into my life for even a short period of time. In the beginning, I’d assumed that we were somehow brought together to help you through your time of grief. Yet now, one year later, I’ve come to believe that it was the other way around. Ironically, I am in the same position you were, the first time we met. As I write, I am struggling with the ghost of someone I loved and lost. I now understand more fully the difficulties you were going through, and I realize how painful it must have been for you to move on. Sometimes my grief is overwhelming, and even though I understand that we will never see each other again, there is a part of me that wants to hold on to you forever. It would be easy for me to do that because loving someone else might diminish my memories of you. Yet, this is the paradox: Even though I miss you greatly, it’s because of you that I don’t dread the future. Because you were able to fall in love with me, you have given me hope, my darling. You taught me that it’s possible to move forward in life, no matter how terrible your grief. And in your own way, you’ve made me believe that true love cannot be denied. Right now, I don’t think I’m ready, but this is my choice. Do not blame yourself. Because of you, I am hopeful that there will come a day when my sadness is replaced by something beautiful. Because of you, I have the strength to go on. I don’t know if spirits do indeed roam the world, but even if they do, I will sense your presence everywhere. When I listen to the ocean, it will be your whispers; when I see a dazzling sunset, it will be your image in the sky. You are not gone forever, no matter who comes into my life. you are standing with God, alongside my soul, helping to guide me toward a future that I cannot predict. This is not a good-bye, my darling, this is a thank-you. Thank you for coming into my life and giving me joy, thank you for loving me and receiving my love in return. Thank you for the memories I will cherish forever. But most of all, thank you for showing me that there will come a time when I can eventually let you go. I love you
Nicholas Sparks (Message in a Bottle)
This powerful presence of diversity, however, sometimes overwhelms people, and they begin thinking that diversity really doesn't matter or, worse, they overreact and become entrenched, angrily guarding what they perceive as their piece of the social turf. Why is it, after all, that in spite of the growing diversity in our culture, we see a rise in hate crimes, a rise in militia movements, a rise in heated, if not hateful, diatribes over the airwaves? Why the backlash of resentment? You would think that white supremacy groups would be a thing of the past. But, tragically, they continue to exist. Why has the world become more dangerous and not less?
R. Scott Colglazier (Finding a Faith That Make Sense)
MR. BONES KNEW THAT WILLY WASN'T LONG FOR THIS WORLD. The cough had been inside him for over six months, and by now there wasn't a chance in hell that he would ever get rid of it. Slowly and inexorably, without once taking a turn for the better, the thing had assumed a life of its own, advancing from a faint, phlegm-filled rattle in the lungs on February third to the wheezy sputum-jigs and gobby convulsions of high summer. All that was bad enough, but in the past two weeks a new tonality had crept into the bronchial music - something tight and flinty and percussive - and the attacks came now so often as to be almost constant. Every time one of them started, Mr. Bones half expected Willy's body to explode from the rockets of pressure bursting agaisnt his rib cage. He figured that blood would be the next step and when that fatal moment finally occurred on Saturday afternoon, it was as if all the angels in heaven had opened their mouths and started to sing. Mr. Bones saw it happen with his own eyes, standing by the edge of the road between Washington and Baltimore as Willy hawked up a few miserable clots of red matter into his handkerchief, and right then and there he knew that every ounce of hope was gone. The smell of death had settled upon Willy G. Christmas, and as surely as the sun was a lamp in the clouds that went off and on everyday, the end was drawing near. What was a poor dog to do? Mr. Bones had been with Willy since his earliest days as a pup, and by now it was next to impossible to imagine a world that did not have his master in it. Every thought, every memory, every particle of the earth and air was saturated with Willy's presence. Habits die hard, and no doubt there's some truth to the adage about old dogs and new tricks, but it was more than just love or devotion that caused Mr. Bones to dread what was coming. It was pure ontological terror. Substract Willy from the world, and the odds were that the world itself would cease to exist.
Paul Auster (Timbuktu)
For the first time I understood the dogma of eternal pain -- appreciated "the glad tidings of great joy." For the first time my imagination grasped the height and depth of the Christian horror. Then I said: "It is a lie, and I hate your religion. If it is true, I hate your God." From that day I have had no fear, no doubt. For me, on that day, the flames of hell were quenched. From that day I have passionately hated every orthodox creed. That Sermon did some good. In the Old Testament, they said. God is the judge -- but in the New, Christ is the merciful. As a matter of fact, the New Testament is infinitely worse than the Old. In the Old there is no threat of eternal pain. Jehovah had no eternal prison -- no everlasting fire. His hatred ended at the grave. His revenge was satisfied when his enemy was dead. In the New Testament, death is not the end, but the beginning of punishment that has no end. In the New Testament the malice of God is infinite and the hunger of his revenge eternal. The orthodox God, when clothed in human flesh, told his disciples not to resist evil, to love their enemies, and when smitten on one cheek to turn the other, and yet we are told that this same God, with the same loving lips, uttered these heartless, these fiendish words; "Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." These are the words of "eternal love." No human being has imagination enough to conceive of this infinite horror. All that the human race has suffered in war and want, in pestilence and famine, in fire and flood, -- all the pangs and pains of every disease and every death -- all this is as nothing compared with the agonies to be endured by one lost soul. This is the consolation of the Christian religion. This is the justice of God -- the mercy of Christ. This frightful dogma, this infinite lie, made me the implacable enemy of Christianity. The truth is that this belief in eternal pain has been the real persecutor. It founded the Inquisition, forged the chains, and furnished the fagots. It has darkened the lives of many millions. It made the cradle as terrible as the coffin. It enslaved nations and shed the blood of countless thousands. It sacrificed the wisest, the bravest and the best. It subverted the idea of justice, drove mercy from the heart, changed men to fiends and banished reason from the brain. Like a venomous serpent it crawls and coils and hisses in every orthodox creed. It makes man an eternal victim and God an eternal fiend. It is the one infinite horror. Every church in which it is taught is a public curse. Every preacher who teaches it is an enemy of mankind. Below this Christian dogma, savagery cannot go. It is the infinite of malice, hatred, and revenge. Nothing could add to the horror of hell, except the presence of its creator, God. While I have life, as long as I draw breath, I shall deny with all my strength, and hate with every drop of my blood, this infinite lie.
Robert G. Ingersoll
Jesus Christ is not a cosmic errand boy. I mean no disrespect or irreverence in so saying, but I do intend to convey the idea that while he loves us deeply and dearly, Christ the Lord is not perched on the edge of heaven, anxiously anticipating our next wish. When we speak of God being good to us, we generally mean that he is kind to us. In the words of the inimitable C. S. Lewis, "What would really satisfy us would be a god who said of anything we happened to like doing, 'What does it matter so long as they are contented?' We want, in fact, not so much a father in heaven as a grandfather in heaven--a senile benevolence who as they say, 'liked to see young people enjoying themselves,' and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, 'a good time was had by all.'" You know and I know that our Lord is much, much more than that. One writer observed: "When we so emphasize Christ's benefits that he becomes nothing more than what his significance is 'for me' we are in danger. . . . Evangelism that says 'come on, it's good for you'; discipleship that concentrates on the benefits package; sermons that 'use' Jesus as the means to a better life or marriage or job or attitude--these all turn Jesus into an expression of that nice god who always meets my spiritual needs. And this is why I am increasingly hesitant to speak of Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. As Ken Woodward put it in a 1994 essay, 'Now I think we all need to be converted--over and over again, but having a personal Savior has always struck me as, well, elitist, like having a personal tailor. I'm satisfied to have the same Lord and Savior as everyone else.' Jesus is not a personal Savior who only seeks to meet my needs. He is the risen, crucified Lord of all creation who seeks to guide me back into the truth." . . . His infinity does not preclude either his immediacy or his intimacy. One man stated that "I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone." . . . Christ is not "my buddy." There is a natural tendency, and it is a dangerous one, to seek to bring Jesus down to our level in an effort to draw closer to him. This is a problem among people both in and outside the LDS faith. Of course we should seek with all our hearts to draw near to him. Of course we should strive to set aside all barriers that would prevent us from closer fellowship with him. And of course we should pray and labor and serve in an effort to close the gap between what we are and what we should be. But drawing close to the Lord is serious business; we nudge our way into intimacy at the peril of our souls. . . . Another gospel irony is that the way to get close to the Lord is not by attempting in any way to shrink the distance between us, to emphasize more of his humanity than his divinity, or to speak to him or of him in casual, colloquial language. . . . Those who have come to know the Lord best--the prophets or covenant spokesmen--are also those who speak of him in reverent tones, who, like Isaiah, find themselves crying out, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isaiah 6:5). Coming into the presence of the Almighty is no light thing; we feel to respond soberly to God's command to Moses: "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5). Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained, "Those who truly love the Lord and who worship the Father in the name of the Son by the power of the Spirit, according to the approved patterns, maintain a reverential barrier between themselves and all the members of the Godhead.
Robert L. Millet
People ought to be told of such things. Ought to be taught that immortality is mortal, that it can die, it's happened before and it happens still. It doesn't ever announce itself as such-it's duplicity itself. It doesn't exist in detail, only in principle. Certain people may harbor it, on condition they don't know that's what they're doing. Just as certain other people may detect its presence in them, on the same condition, that they don't know they can. It's while it's being lived that life is immortal, while it's still alive. Immortality is not a matter of more or less time, it's not really a question of immortality but of something else that remains unknown.
Marguerite Duras (The Lover)
In the course of your life you will be continually encountering fools. There are simply too many to avoid. We can classify people as fools by the following rubric: when it comes to practical life, what should matter is getting long term results, and getting the work done in as efficient and creative a manner as possible. That should be the supreme value that guides people’s action. But fools carry with them a different scale of values. They place more importance on short-term matters – grabbing immediate money, getting attention from the public or media, and looking good. They are ruled by their ego and insecurities. They tend to enjoy drama and political intrigue for their own sake. When they criticize, they always emphasize matters that are irrelevant to the overall picture or argument. They are more interested in their career and position than in the truth. You can distinguish them by how little they get done, or by how hard they make it for others to get results. They lack a certain common sense, getting worked up about things that are not really important while ignoring problems that will spell doom in the long term. The natural tendency with fools is to lower yourself to their level. They annoy you, get under your skin, and draw you into a battle. In the process, you feel petty and confused. You lose a sense of what is really important. You can’t win an argument or get them to see your side or change their behavior, because rationality and results don’t matter to them. You simply waste valuable time and emotional energy. In dealing with fools you must adopt the following philosophy: they are simply a part of life, like rocks or furniture. All of us have foolish sides, moments in which we lose our heads and think more of our ego or short-term goals. It is human nature. Seeing this foolishness within you, you can then accept it in others. This will allow you to smile at their antics, to tolerate their presence as you would a silly child, and to avoid the madness of trying to change them. It is all part of the human comedy, and it is nothing to get upset or lose sleep over.
Robert Greene (Mastery)
To understand, I destroyed myself. To understand is to forget about loving. I know nothing more simultaneously false and telling than the statement by Leonardo da Vinci that we cannot love or hate something until we’ve understood it. Solitude devastates me; company oppresses me. The presence of another person derails my thoughts; I dream of the other’s presence with a strange absent-mindedness that no amount of my analytical scrutiny can define. Isolation has carved me in its image and likeness. The presence of another person – of any person whatsoever – instantly slows down my thinking, and while for a normal man contact with others is a stimulus to spoken expression and wit, for me it is a counterstimulus, if this compound word be linguistically permissible. When all by myself, I can think of all kinds of clever remarks, quick comebacks to what no one said, and flashes of witty sociability with nobody. But all of this vanishes when I face someone in the flesh: I lose my intelligence, I can no longer speak, and after half an hour I just feel tired. Yes, talking to people makes me feel like sleeping. Only my ghostly and imaginary friends, only the conversations I have in my dreams, are genuinely real and substantial, and in them intelligence gleams like an image in a mirror. The mere thought of having to enter into contact with someone else makes me nervous. A simple invitation to have dinner with a friend produces an anguish in me that’s hard to define. The idea of any social obligation whatsoever – attending a funeral, dealing with someone about an office matter, going to the station to wait for someone I know or don’t know – the very idea disturbs my thoughts for an entire day, and sometimes I even start worrying the night before, so that I sleep badly. When it takes place, the dreaded encounter is utterly insignificant, justifying none of my anxiety, but the next time is no different: I never learn to learn. ‘My habits are of solitude, not of men.’ I don’t know if it was Rousseau or Senancour who said this. But it was some mind of my species, it being perhaps too much to say of my race.
Fernando Pessoa
You seem disappointed that I am not more responsive to your interest in "spiritual direction". Actually, I am more than a little ambivalent about the term, particularly in the ways it is being used so loosely without any sense of knowledge of the church's traditions in these matters. If by spiritual direction you mean entering into a friendship with another person in which an awareness and responsiveness to God's Spirit in the everydayness of your life is cultivated, fine. Then why call in an awkward term like "spiritual direction"? Why not just "friend"? Spiritual direction strikes me as pretentious in these circumstances, as if there were some expertise that can be acquired more or less on its own and then dispensed on demand. The other reason for my lack of enthusiasm is my well-founded fear of professionalism in any and all matters of the Christian life. Or maybe the right label for my fear is "functionalism". The moment an aspect of Christian living (human life, for that matter) is defined as a role, it is distorted, debased - and eventually destroyed. We are brothers and sisters with one another, friends and lovers, saints and sinners. The irony here is that the rise of interest in spiritual direction almost certainly comes from the proliferation of role-defined activism in our culture. We are sick and tired of being slotted into a function and then manipulated with Scripture and prayer to do what someone has decided (often with the help of some psychological testing) that we should be doing to bring glory to some religious enterprise or other. And so when people begin to show up who are interested in us just as we are - our souls - we are ready to be paid attention to in this prayerful, listening, non-manipulative, nonfunctional way. Spiritual direction. But then it begins to develop a culture and language and hierarchy all its own. It becomes first a special interest, and then a specialization. That is what seems to be happening in the circles you are frequenting. I seriously doubt that it is a healthy (holy) line to be pursuing. Instead, why don't you look over the congregation on Sundays and pick someone who appears to be mature and congenial. Ask her or him if you can meet together every month or so - you feel the need to talk about your life in the company of someone who believes that Jesus is present and active in everything you are doing. Reassure the person that he or she doesn't have to say anything "wise". You only want them to be there for you to listen and be prayerful in the listening. After three or four such meetings, write to me what has transpired, and we'll discuss it further. I've had a number of men and women who have served me in this way over the years - none carried the title "spiritual director", although that is what they have been. Some had never heard of such a term. When I moved to Canada a few years ago and had to leave a long-term relationship of this sort, I looked around for someone whom I could be with in this way. I picked a man whom I knew to be a person of integrity and prayer, with seasoned Christian wisdom in his bones. I anticipated that he would disqualify himself. So I pre-composed my rebuttal: "All I want you to do is two things: show up and shut up. Can you do that? Meet with me every six weeks or so, and just be there - an honest, prayerful presence with no responsibility to be anything other than what you have become in your obedient lifetime." And it worked. If that is what you mean by "spiritual director," okay. But I still prefer "friend". You can see now from my comments that my gut feeling is that the most mature and reliable Christian guidance and understanding comes out of the most immediate and local of settings. The ordinary way. We have to break this cultural habit of sending out for an expert every time we feel we need some assistance. Wisdom is not a matter of expertise. The peace of the Lord, Eugene
Eugene H. Peterson (The Wisdom of Each Other)
But even in such works where the author is ideally unobtrusive, he remains diffused through the book so that his very absence becomes a kind of radiant presence. As the French say, il brille par son absence — "he shines by his absence." In connection with Bleak House we are concerned with one of those authors who are so to speak not supreme deities, diffuse and aloof, but puttering, amiable, sympathetic demigods, who descend into their books under various disguises or send therein various middlemen, representatives, agents, minions, spies, and stooges. [...] Roughly speaking, there are three types of such representatives. Let us inspect them. First, the narrator insofar as he speaks in the first person, the capital I of the story, its moving pillar. [...] Second, a type of author's representative, what I call the sifting agent. [...] The third type is the so-called perry, possibly derived from periscope, despite the double r, or perhaps from parry in vague connection with foil as in fencing. But this does not matter much since anyway I invented the term myself many years ago.
Vladimir Nabokov (Lectures on Literature)
Needless to say, this fragile experiment began by taking for granted the ugly conquest of Amerindians and Mexicans, the exclusion of women, the subordination of European working-class men and the closeting of homosexuals. These realities made many of the words of the revolutionary Declaration of Independence ring a bit hollow. yet the enslavement of Africans -- over 20 percent of the population -- served as the linchpin of American democracy; that is, the much-heralded stability and continuity of American democracy was predicated upon black oppression and degradation. Without the presence of black people in America, European-Americans would not be "white -- they would be only Irish, Italians, Poles, Welsh, and others engaged in class, ethnic, and gender struggles over resources and identity.
Cornel West (Race Matters)
Man knows himself as body, and what he knows of spirit comes through grace. The poet would call it inspiration. But the spirit bloweth where it listeth. Man has no control over his inspiration. If a piece of music or a poem has moved him once, he can never be certain that it will happen again. But man hates to think that he has no control over the spirit. It would discourage him too much. He likes to believe that he can summon the spirit by some ordinary act. Instead of striving to prepare himself for it through discipline and prayer, he tries to summon it arbitrarily through some physical act—drinking Düsseldorf beer, for instance. . . Stein said, chuckling: Which is the way all good Düsseldorfers summon the spirit, since our Dunkelbier is the best in Germany. The priest laughed with him, and for a moment Sorme had a curious impression that he was listening to an argument between two undergraduates instead of two men in their late sixties. He shrank deeper into his armchair, wanting them to forget his presence. The priest stopped laughing first, and Sorme had a glimpse of the tiredness that always lay behind his eyes. Stein also became grave again. He said: Very well. But what has this to do with the murderer? It has to do with sex. For sex is the favourite human device for summoning the spirit. And since it is also God's gift of procreation, it nearly always works. . . unlike music and poetry. Or beer, Stein said. Quite. But even sex is not infallible. And man hates to think that he has no power over the spirit. The more his physical methods fail him, the more voraciously he pursues them. His attempts to summon the spirit become more and more frenzied. If he is a drinker, he drinks more, until he has more alcohol than blood in his veins. If he is a sensualist, he invents sexual perversions. Ah, Stein said. There are many other ways, of course—the lust for money and power, for instance. All depend upon man's refusal to face the fact that the spirit bloweth where it listeth, that no physical act can be guaranteed to summon it. . .
Colin Wilson (Ritual in the Dark)
It had begun to be present to him after the first fortnight, it had broken out with the oddest abruptness, this particular wanton wonderment: it met him there--and this was the image under which he himself judged the matter, or at least, not a little, thrilled and flushed with it--very much as he might have been met by some strange figure, some unexpected occupant, at a turn of one of the dim passages of an empty house. The quaint analogy quite hauntingly remained with him, when he didn't indeed rather improve it by a still intenser form: that of his opening a door behind which he would have made sure of finding nothing, a door into a room shuttered and void, and yet so coming, with a great suppressed start, on some quite erect confronting presence, something planted in the middle of the place and facing him through the dusk.
Henry James (The Jolly Corner)
I call it your source-fracture wound, the original break in your heart from long ago. It may have happened in an instant--a little rejection, a shocking abandonment, or a slight misattunement that suddenly made you realize how alone you were in this world. Or perhaps it was a bit-bu-bit splintering as over the years you met with an intermittent meanness, an unpredictable but repetitive abuse, or a neglect that stole your childhood inches at a time. Wherever, however, or whenever it happened, one thing we can assume is that no adult helped you make accurate meaning of your confusing and painful experience. No grown up sat you down and lovingly said, "No, honey, it's not that you're stupid. It's that your big brother is scared and insecure." "It's not that you don't matter, angel. It's that Daddy has a drinking problem and needs help." "It's not that you're not enough. It's that Mommy has clinical depression, dear, and it's neither your fault nor yours to fix." Without this mature presence to help explain to you what was happening to your little world, you probably came to some pretty strong and wrong conclusions about who you were and what was possible for you to have in life. And those conclusions became a habit of consciousness, a filter through which you interpret and then respond to the events of your life, making your grief all the more complex.
Katherine Woodward Thomas (Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After)
I have often wondered if the majority of mankind ever pause to reflect upon the occasionally titanic significance of dreams, and of the obscure world to which they belong. Whilst the greater number of our nocturnal visions are perhaps no more than faint and fantastic reflections of our waking experiences—Freud to the contrary with his puerile symbolism—there are still a certain remainder whose immundane and ethereal character permit of no ordinary interpretation, and whose vaguely exciting and disquieting effect suggests possible minute glimpses into a sphere of mental existence no less important than physical life, yet separated from that life by an all but impassable barrier. From my experience I cannot doubt but that man, when lost to terrestrial consciousness, is indeed sojourning in another and uncorporeal life of far different nature from the life we know, and of which only the slightest and most indistinct memories linger after waking. From those blurred and fragmentary memories we may infer much, yet prove little. We may guess that in dreams life, matter, and vitality, as the earth knows such things, are not necessarily constant; and that time and space do not exist as our waking selves comprehend them. Sometimes I believe that this less material life is our truer life, and that our vain presence on the terraqueous globe is itself the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon.
H.P. Lovecraft (Beyond the Wall of Sleep)
It was hard to avoid doing so when Rowan’s presence somehow sucked out all the air in the warehouse. Then there was the matter of the delicately pointed ears peeking out from the short silver hair. Fae—he’d never seen one other than Aelin in those brief, petrifying moments. And Rowan … Conveniently, in all her storytelling, Aelin had forgotten to mention that the prince was so handsome. A handsome Fae Prince, whom she’d spent months living and training with—while Chaol’s own life fell apart, while people died because of her actions— Rowan was watching Chaol as if he might be dinner. Depending on his Fae form, that might not be too far wrong. Every instinct was screaming at him to run, despite the fact that Rowan had been nothing but polite. Distant and intense, but polite. Still, Chaol didn’t need to see the prince in action to know that he would be dead before he could even draw his sword. “You know, he won’t bite,” Aelin crooned.
Sarah J. Maas (Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4))
I came to recognize the landscape of my life in the lives of many women. Their stories and the places they spoke of spanned a world beyond my experience, from mill towns to suburbs, from logging camps to ethnic neighborhoods, from inner cities to Indian reservations. Few shared my place of origin or the events of my life, but many, it seems, shared my experience. Listening to their stories, I came to understand how women can be isolated by circumstances as well as by distance, and how our experiences, though geographically distinct, often translated into the same feelings. Away from the physical presence of my past, I found it easy to argue that what mattered most was the story, the truth of what we tell ourselves, the versions we pass along to our daughters. But as I stood in the living room of my rock house that afternoon, I was again reminded of the enormous power of this prairie, its silence and the whisper I made inside it. I had forgotten how easily one person can be lost here.
Judy Blunt (Breaking Clean)
Now, even though it be neither necessity nor caprice, history, for the authentic reactionary, is not, for all that, an interior dialectic of the immanent will, but rather a temporal adventure between man and that which transcends him. His labors are traces, on the disturbed sand, of the body of a beast and the aura of an angel. History is a tatter, torn from man’s freedom, waving in the breath of destiny. Man cannot be silent because his liberty is not merely a sanctuary where he escapes from deadening routine and takes refuge in order to become his own master. But in the free act the radical does not attain possession of his essence. Liberty is not an abstract possibility of choosing among known goods, but rather the concrete condition in which we are granted the possession of new goods. Freedom is not a momentary judgement between conflicting instincts, but rather the summit from which man contemplates the ascent of new stars among the luminous dust of the starry sky. Liberty places man among prohibitions that are not physical and imperatives that are not vital. The free moment dispels the unreal brightness of the day, in order that the motion of the universe which slides its fleeting lights over the shuddering of our flesh might rise up on the horizon of our soul. If the progressive casts himself into the future, and the conservative into the past, the authentic reactionary does not measure his anxiety with the history of yesterday or with the history of tomorrow. He does not extol what the new dawn might bring, nor is he terrified by the last shadows of the night. His spirit rises up to a space where the essential accosts him with its immortal presence. One escapes the slavery of history by pursuing in the wildness of the world the traces of divine footsteps. Man and his deeds are a vital but servile and mortal flesh that breathes gusts from beyond the mountains. To be reactionary is to champion causes that do not turn up on the notice board of history, causes where losing does not matter. It is to know that we only discover what we think we invent; to admit that our imagination does not create, but only lays bare smooth surfaces. It is not to espouse settled cases, nor to plead for determined conclusions, but rather to submit our will to the necessity that does not constrain, to surrender our freedom to the exigency that does not compel; it is to find sleeping certainties that guide us to the edge of ancient pools. The reactionary is not a nostalgic dreamer of a canceled past, but rather a seeker of sacred shades upon eternal hills.
Nicolás Gómez Dávila
this matter will not go uninvestigated.” He glanced at Madam Bones, who readjusted her monocle and stared back at him, frowning slightly. “I would remind everybody that the behavior of these dementors, if indeed they are not figments of this boy’s imagination, is not the subject of this hearing!” said Fudge. “We are here to examine Harry Potter’s offenses under the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery!” “Of course we are,” said Dumbledore, “but the presence of dementors in that alleyway is highly relevant. Clause seven of the Decree states that magic may be used before Muggles in exceptional circumstances, and as those exceptional circumstances include situations that threaten the life of the wizard or witch himself, or witches, wizards, or Muggles present at the time of the —” “We are familiar with clause seven, thank you very much!” snarled Fudge. “Of course you are,” said Dumbledore courteously. “Then we are in agreement that Harry’s use of the Patronus Charm in these circumstances falls precisely into the category of exceptional circumstances it describes?” “If there were dementors, which I doubt —” “You have heard from an eyewitness,” Dumbledore interrupted. “If you still doubt her truthfulness, call her back, question her again. I am sure she would not object.” “I — that — not —” blustered Fudge, fiddling with the papers before him. “It’s — I want this over with today, Dumbledore!” “But naturally, you would not care how many times you heard from a witness, if the alternative was a serious miscarriage of justice,” said Dumbledore.
J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5))
To pray in the midst of the mundane is simply and strongly to assert that this dull and tiring day is holy and its simple labors are the stuff of God's saving presence for me now. To pray simply because it is prayer time is no small act of immersion in the God who is willing to wait for us to be conscious, to be ready, to be willing to become new in life. Prayer, Benedictine spirituality demonstrates, is not a matter of mood. To pray only when we feel like it is more to seek consolation than to risk conversion. To pray only when it suits us is to want God on our terms. To pray only when it is convenient is to make the God-life a very low priority in a list of better opportunities. To pray only when it feels good is to court total emptiness when we most need to be filled. The hard fact is that nobody finds time for prayer. The time must be taken. There will always be something more pressing to do, something more important to be about than the apparently fruitless, empty act of prayer. But when that attitude takes over, we have begun the last trip down a very short road because, without prayer, the energy for the rest of life runs down. The fuel runs out. We become our own worst enemies: we call ourselves too tired and too busy to pray when, in reality, we are too tired and too busy not to pray. Eventually, the burdens of the day wear us down and we no longer remember why we decided to do what we're doing: work for this project, marry this woman, have these children, minister in this place. And if I cannot remember why I decided to do this, I cannot figure out how I can go on with it. I am tired and the vision just gets dimmer and dimmer.
Joan D. Chittister
Arin glanced up as she approached. One tree shadowed the knoll, a laran tree, leaves broad and glossy. Their shadows dappled Arin’s face, made it a patchwork of sun and dark. It was hard to read his expression. She noticed for the first time the way he kept the scarred side of his face out of her line of sight. Or rather, what she noticed for the first time was how common this habit was for him in her presence--and what that meant. She stepped deliberately around him and sat so that he had to face her fully or shift into an awkward, neck-craned position. He faced her. His brow lifted, not so much in amusement as in his awareness of being studied and translated. “Just a habit,” he said, knowing what she’d seen. “You have that habit only with me.” He didn’t deny it. “Your scar doesn’t matter to me, Arin.” His expression turned sardonic and interior, as if he were listening to an unheard voice. She groped for the right words, worried that she’d get this wrong. She remembered mocking him in the music room of the imperial palace (I wonder what you believe could compel me to go to such epic lengths for your sake. Is it your charm? Your breeding? Not your looks, surely.). “It matters because it hurts you,” she said. “It doesn’t change how I see you. You’re beautiful. You always have been to me.” Even when she hadn’t realized it, even in the market nearly a year ago. Then later, when she understood his beauty. Again, when she saw his face torn, stitched, fevered. On the tundra, when his beauty terrified her. Now. Now, too. Her throat closed. The line of his jaw hardened. He didn’t believe her. “Arin--” “I’m sorry for what happened in the village.” She dropped her hand to her lap. She hadn’t been conscious of lifting it.
Marie Rutkoski (The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3))
The city’s streets coiled around him, writhing like serpents, London had grown unstable once again, revealing its true, capricious, tormented nature, its anguish of a city that had lost its sense of itself and wallowed, accordingly, in the impotence of its selfish, angry present of masks and parodies, stifled and twisted by the insupportable, unrejected burden of its past, staring into the bleakness of its impoverished future. He wandered its streets through that night and the next day, and the next night, and on until the light and dark ceased to matter. He no longer seemed to need food or rest, but only to move constantly through that tortured metropolis whose fabric was now utterly transformed, the houses in the rich quarters being built of solidified fear, the government buildings partly of vainglory and partly of scorn, and the residences of the poor of confusion and material dreams. When you looked through an angel’s eyes you saw essences instead of surfaces, you saw the decay of the soul blistering and bubbling on the skins of people in the street, you saw the generosity of certain spirits resting on their shoulders in the form of birds. As he roamed the metamorphosed city he saw bat-winged imps sitting on the corners of buildings made of deceits and glimpsed goblins oozing wormily through the broken tilework of public urinals for men. As once the thirteenth-century German monk Richalmus would shut his eyes and instantly see clouds of minuscule demons surrounding every man and woman on earth, dancing like dustspecks in the sunlight, so now Gibreel with open eyes and by the light of the moon as well as the sun detected everywhere the presence of his adversary, his—to give the old word back its original meaning—shaitan.
Salman Rushdie (The Satanic Verses)
In fact this desire for consonance in the apocalyptic data, and our tendency to be derisive about it, seem to me equally interesting. Each manifests itself, in the presence of the other, in most of our minds. We are all ready to be sceptical about Father Marystone, but we are most of us given to some form of 'centurial mysticism,' and even to more extravagant apocalyptic practices: a point I shall be taking up in my fourth talk. What it seems to come to is this. Men in the middest make considerable imaginative investments in coherent patterns which, by the provision of an end, make possible a satisfying consonance with the origins and with the middle. That is why the image of the end can never be permanently falsified. But they also, when awake and sane, feel the need to show a marked respect for things as they are; so that there is a recurring need for adjustments in the interest of reality as well as of control. This has relevance to literary plots, images of the grand temporal consonance; and we may notice that there is the same co-existence of naïve acceptance and scepticism here as there is in apocalyptic. Broadly speaking, it is the popular story that sticks most closely to established conventions; novels the clerisy calls 'major' tend to vary them, and to vary them more and more as time goes by. I shall be talking about this in some detail later, but a few brief illustrations might be useful now. I shall refer chiefly to one aspect of the matter, the falsification of one's expectation of the end. The story that proceeded very simply to its obviously predestined end would be nearer myth than novel or drama. Peripeteia, which has been called the equivalent, in narrative, of irony in rhetoric, is present in every story of the least structural sophistication. Now peripeteia depends on our confidence of the end; it is a disconfirmation followed by a consonance; the interest of having our expectations falsified is obviously related to our wish to reach the discovery or recognition by an unexpected and instructive route. It has nothing whatever to do with any reluctance on our part to get there at all. So that in assimilating the peripeteia we are enacting that readjustment of expectations in regard to an end which is so notable a feature of naïve apocalyptic. And we are doing rather more than that; we are, to look at the matter in another way, re-enacting the familiar dialogue between credulity and scepticism. The more daring the peripeteia, the more we may feel that the work respects our sense of reality; and the more certainly we shall feel that the fiction under consideration is one of those which, by upsetting the ordinary balance of our naïve expectations, is finding something out for us, something real. The falsification of an expectation can be terrible, as in the death of Cordelia; it is a way of finding something out that we should, on our more conventional way to the end, have closed our eyes to. Obviously it could not work if there were not a certain rigidity in the set of our expectations.
Frank Kermode (The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction)
The presence of the migrants “in such large numbers crushed and stagnated the progress of Negro life,” the economist Sadie Mossell wrote early in the migration to Philadelphia. Newly available census records suggest the opposite to be true. According to a growing body of research, the migrants were, it turns out, better educated than those they left behind in the South and, on the whole, had nearly as many years of schooling as those they encountered in the North. Compared to the northern blacks already there, the migrants were more likely to be married and remain married, more likely to raise their children in two-parent households, and more likely to be employed. The migrants, as a group, managed to earn higher incomes than northern-born blacks even though they were relegated to the lowest-paying positions. They were less likely to be on welfare than the blacks they encountered in the North, partly because they had come so far, had experienced such hard times, and were willing to work longer hours or second jobs in positions that few northern blacks, or hardly anyone else for that matter, wanted, as was the case with Ida Mae Gladney, George Swanson Starling, Robert Foster, and millions of others like them.
Isabel Wilkerson (The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration)
[Lena Lees describes from trance her experience of Kuan Yin]: “I see Kuan Yin. She is like Venus, statuesque and standing in front of a beautiful pink half-shell. Quickly, she walks in front of me, pointing the way. We are entering the mouth of a cave. It’s so interesting. I see stairs carved out of rock in the cave. We walk up the stairs to a door. I know somehow this is just another entrance, a doorway to another time, place. Perhaps at another historical time monks lived there. Now, I’m seeing a huge image, a beautiful statue of Kuan Yin right at the top of the mountain. There are stairs leading up to her and it is as if I’m right on location, standing alongside a group of worshipers. I feel the potency of her energy. In these places, perhaps China or Vietnam, there is a palpable sense of being immersed in and supported by her presence. There is a need by the people to know more, to pick up and accumulate wisdom. I’m suddenly feeling a need to be in that kind of energy. Suddenly it is Kuan Yin who is speaking: “Some believe I am in servitude to Buddha. However, Buddha doesn’t see it like that. We’re more like brother and sister. I’m showing, Lena, my abode, a place on earth where humans can visit me and be in my potency. Lena is looking at my statue and then at my form. There’s a difference. I come to people in many forms, forms constructed from people’s own perceptions of how I should come to them. And it is individual spiritual needs that create these unique perceptions. In the end, it does not matter what form I take.” “Kuan Yin wants me to know that I can have the most divine life imaginable,” whispers Lena, still very deep in trance. “She’ll be here until the last soul passes off the earth. She remains in deity form to assist people in transcending their materialistic nature, to help them attain their highest spiritual level.
Hope Bradford (Oracle of Compassion: The Living Word of Kuan Yin)
His breath fell in a warm, even rhythm on the curve of her cheek. “Some people think of the bee as a sacred insect,” he said. “It’s a symbol of reincarnation.” “I don’t believe in reincarnation,” she muttered. There was a smile in his voice. “What a surprise. At the very least, the bees’ presence in your home is a sign of good things to come.” Her voice was buried in the fine wool of his coat. “Wh-what does it mean if there are thousands of bees in one’s home?” He shifted her higher in his arms, his lips curving gently against the cold rim of her ear. “Probably that we’ll have plenty of honey for teatime. We’re going through the doorway now. In a moment I’m going to set you on your feet.” Amelia kept her face against him, her fingertips digging into the layers of his clothes. “Are they following?” “No. They want to stay near the hive. Their main concern is to protect the queen from predators.” “She has nothing to fear from me!” Laughter rustled in his throat. With extreme care, he lowered Amelia’s feet to the floor. Keeping one arm around her, he reached with the other to close the door. “There. We’re out of the room. You’re safe.” His hand passed over her hair. “You can open your eyes now.” Clutching the lapels of his coat, Amelia stood and waited for a feeling of relief that didn’t come. Her heart was racing too hard, too fast. Her chest ached from the strain of her breathing. Her lashes lifted, but all she could see was a shower of sparks. “Amelia … easy. You’re all right.” His hands chased the shivers that ran up and down her back. “Slow down, sweetheart.” She couldn’t. Her lungs were about to burst. No matter how hard she worked, she couldn’t get enough air. Bees … the sound of buzzing was still in her ears. She heard his voice as if from a great distance, and she felt his arms go around her again as she sank into layers of gray softness. After what could have been a minute or an hour, pleasant sensations filtered through the haze. A tender pressure moved over her forehead. The gentle brushes touched her eyelids, slid to her cheeks. Strong arms held her against a comfortingly hard surface, while a clean, salt-edged scent filled her nostrils. Her lashes fluttered, and she turned into the warmth with confused pleasure. “There you are,” came a low murmur. Opening her eyes, Amelia saw Cam Rohan’s face above her. They were on the hallway floor—he was holding her in his lap. As if the situation weren’t mortifying enough, the front of her bodice was gaping, and her corset was unhooked. Only her crumpled chemise was left to cover her chest. Amelia stiffened. Until that moment she had never known there was a feeling beyond embarrassment, that made one wish one could crumble into a pile of ashes. “My … my dress…” “You weren’t breathing well. I thought it best to loosen your corset.” “I’ve never fainted before,” she said groggily, struggling to sit up. “You were frightened.” His hand came to the center of her chest, gently pressing her back down. “Rest another minute.” His gaze moved over her wan features. “I think we can conclude you’re not fond of bees.
Lisa Kleypas (Mine Till Midnight (The Hathaways, #1))
I have talked with many pastors whose real struggle isn’t first with the hardship of ministry, the lack of appreciation and involvement of people, or difficulties with fellow leaders. No, the real struggle they are having, one that is very hard for a pastor to admit, is with God. What is caused to ministry become hard and burdensome is disappointment and anger at God. We have forgotten that pastoral ministry is war and that you will never live successfully in the pastorate if you live with the peacetime mentality. Permit me to explain. The fundamental battle of pastoral ministry is not with the shifting values of the surrounding culture. It is not the struggle with resistant people who don't seem to esteem the Gospel. It is not the fight for the success of ministries of the church. And is not the constant struggle of resources and personnel to accomplish the mission. No, the war of the pastor is a deeply personal war. It is far on the ground of the pastor’s heart. It is a war values, allegiances, and motivations. It's about the subtle desires and foundational dreams. This war is the greatest threat to every pastor. Yet it is a war that we often naïvely ignore or quickly forget in the busyness of local church ministry. When you forget the Gospel, you begin to seek from the situations, locations and relationships of ministry what you already have been given in Christ. You begin to look to ministry for identity, security, hope, well-being, meeting, and purpose. These things are already yours in Christ. In ways of which you are not always aware, your ministry is always shaped by what is in functional control of your heart. The fact of the matter is that many pastors become awe numb or awe confused, or they get awe kidnapped. Many pastors look at glory and don't seek glory anymore. Many pastors are just cranking out because they don't know what else to do. Many pastors preach a boring, uninspiring gospel that makes you wonder why people aren't sleeping their way through it. Many pastors are better at arguing fine points of doctrine than stimulating divine wonder. Many pastors see more stimulated by the next ministry, vision of the next step in strategic planning than by the stunning glory of the grand intervention of grace into sin broken hearts. The glories of being right, successful, in control, esteemed, and secure often become more influential in the way that ministry is done than the awesome realities of the presence, sovereignty, power, and love of God. Mediocrity is not a time, personnel, resource, or location problem. Mediocrity is a heart problem. We have lost our commitment to the highest levels of excellence because we have lost our awe.
Paul David Tripp (Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry)
Ninety-seven. But since the natives of that place, who will be concerned in our plantation, are utterly strangers to Christianity, whose idolatry, ignorance, or mistake gives us no right to expel or use them ill; and those who remove from other parts to plant there will unavoidably be of different opinions concerning matters of religion, the liberty whereof they will expect to have allowed them, and it will not be reasonable for us, on this account, to keep them out, that civil peace may be maintained amidst diversity of opinions, and our agreement and compact with all men may be duly and faithfully observed; the violation whereof, upon what presence soever, cannot be without great offence to Almighty God, and great scandal to the true religion which we profess; and also that Jews, heathens, and other dissenters from the purity of Christian religion may not be scared and kept at a distance from it, but, by having an opportunity of acquainting themselves with the truth and reasonableness of its doctrines, and the peaceableness and inoffensiveness of its professors, may, by good usage and persuasion, and all those convincing methods of gentleness and meekness, suitable to the rules and design of the gospel, be won ever to embrace and unfeignedly receive the truth; therefore, any seven or more persons agreeing in any religion, shall constitute a church or profession, to which they shall give some name, to distinguish it from others.
John Locke (The John Locke Collection: 6 Classic Works)
washing and little food rituals. The battle in the Gospels focuses on those. When Jesus tries to turn it to things that really matter, the scribes and Pharisees go away and ask among themselves, “How can we kill this guy?” It is fascinating to see how bloodthirsty the people around Jesus were, but that’s where the righteousness of the scribe and the Pharisee leaves you. It leaves you trying to manage affairs and make them work out as you think they should in your own strength, and so you need to have a little committee meeting here or get-together there and figure out how to get rid of this guy. Beyond the righteousness of the scribe and the Pharisee is where we experience the kingdom. It’s where we begin to enter interactively into the kind of change that allows us to live constantly in the action of God in our lives. As long as we stick at the level of action and of righteousness identified in terms of action, we will never move on to where the real action of the kingdom of God is. Of course, many people say, “Well, you’re not very sophisticated.” But that’s why Jesus talked about children and said that unless you repent and become like a little child, you won’t enter the kingdom of heaven. You know, we have heard many sermons about how to do that, about how to repent and become like a little child. But that primarily means that we forsake the wisdom of men, of human beings, about how to deal with God. That’s the primary part of becoming a child. A little child runs to the door, hears the garbage truck and says, “I want to be
Dallas Willard (Living in Christ's Presence: Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God)
Moving on, while he wondered, the dark through which Mr. Lecky's light cut grew more beautiful with scents. Particles of solid matter so minute, gases so subtle, that they filtered through stopping and sealing, hung on the unstirred air. Drawn in with Mr. Lecky's breath came impalpable dews cooked out of disintegrating coal. Distilled, chemically split and reformed, they ended in flawless simulation of the aromas of gums, the scent of woods and the world's flowers. The chemists who made them could do more than that. Loose on the gloom were perfumes of flowers which might possibly have bloomed but never had, and the strong-smelling saps of trees either lost or not yet evolved. Mixed in the mucus of the pituitary membrane, these volatile essences meant more than synthetic chemistry to Mr. Lecky. Their microscopic slime coated the bushed-out ends of the olfactory nerve; their presence was signaled to the anterior of the brain's temporal lobe. At once, thought waited on them, tossing down from the great storehouse of old images, neglected ideas - sandalwood and roses, musk and lavender. Mr. Lecky stood still, wrung by pangs as insistent and unanswerable as hunger. He was prodded by the unrest of things desired, not had; the surfeit of things had, not desired. More than anything he could see, or words, or sounds, these odors made him stupidly aware of the past. Unable to remember it, whence he was, or where he had previously been, all that was sweet, impermanent and gone came back not spoiled by too much truth or exact memory. Volatile as the perfumes, the past stirred him with longing for what was not - the only beloved beauty which you will have to see but which you may not keep. Mr. Lecky's beam of light went through glass top and side of a counter, displayed bottles of colored liquid - straw, amber, topaz - threw shadows behind their diverse shapes. He had no use for perfume. All the distraction, all the sense of loss and implausible sweetness which he felt was in memory of women. Behind the counter, Mr. Lecky, curious, took out bottles, sniffed them, examined their elaborately varied forms - transparent squares, triangles, cones, flattened ovals. Some were opaque, jet or blue, rough with embedded metals in intricate design. This great and needless decoration of the flasks which contained it was one strange way to express the inexpressible. Another way was tried in the names put on the bottles. Here words ran the suggestive or symbolic gamut of idealized passion, or festive night, of desired caresses, or of abstractions of the painful allure yet farther fetched. Not even in the hopeful, miracle-raving fancy of those who used the perfumes could a bottle of liquid have any actual magic. Since the buyers at the counters must be human beings, nine of every ten were beyond this or other help. Women, young, but unlovely and unloved, women, whatever they had been, now at the end of it and ruined by years or thickened to caricature by fat, ought to be the ones called to mind by perfume. But they were not. Mr. Lecky held the bottle in his hand a long while, aware of the tenth woman.
James Gould Cozzens
There was once a stone cutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life. One day he passed a wealthy merchant's house. Through the open gateway, he saw many fine possessions and important visitors. "How powerful that merchant must be!" thought the stone cutter. He became very envious and wished that he could be like the merchant. To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever imagined, but envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. Soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. "How powerful that official is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a high official!" Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around. It was a hot summer day, so the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. "How powerful the sun is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the sun!" Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. "How powerful that storm cloud is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a cloud!" Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. "How powerful it is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the wind!" Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, feared and hated by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it - a huge, towering rock. "How powerful that rock is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a rock!" Then he became the rock, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the hard surface, and felt himself being changed. "What could be more powerful than I, the rock?" he thought. He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stone cutter.
Benjamin Hoff (The Tao of Pooh)
Has he invited you to dinner, dear? Gifts, flowers, the usual?” I had to put my cup down, because my hand was shaking too much. When I stopped laughing, I said, “Curran? He isn’t exactly Mr. Smooth. He handed me a bowl of soup, that’s as far as we got.” “He fed you?” Raphael stopped rubbing Andrea. “How did this happen?” Aunt B stared at me. “Be very specific, this is important.” “He didn’t actually feed me. I was injured and he handed me a bowl of chicken soup. Actually I think he handed me two or three. And he called me an idiot.” “Did you accept?” Aunt B asked. “Yes, I was starving. Why are the three of you looking at me like that?” “For crying out loud.” Andrea set her cup down, spilling some tea. “The Beast Lord’s feeding you soup. Think about that for a second.” Raphael coughed. Aunt B leaned forward. “Was there anybody else in the room?” “No. He chased everyone out.” Raphael nodded. “At least he hasn’t gone public yet.” “He might never,” Andrea said. “It would jeopardize her position with the Order.” Aunt B’s face was grave. “It doesn’t go past this room. You hear me, Raphael? No gossip, no pillow talk, not a word. We don’t want any trouble with Curran.” “If you don’t explain it all to me, I will strangle somebody.” Of course, Raphael might like that . . . “Food has a special significance,” Aunt D said. I nodded. “Food indicates hierarchy. Nobody eats before the alpha, unless permission is given, and no alpha eats in Curran’s presence until Curran takes a bite.” “There is more,” Aunt B said. “Animals express love through food. When a cat loves you, he’ll leave dead mice on your porch, because you’re a lousy hunter and he wants to take care of you. When a shapeshifter boy likes a girl, he’ll bring her food and if she likes him back, she might make him lunch. When Curran wants to show interest in a woman, he buys her dinner.” “In public,” Raphael added, “the shapeshifter fathers always put the first bite on the plates of their wives and children. It signals that if someone wants to challenge the wife or the child, they would have to challenge the male first.” “If you put all of Curran’s girls together, you could have a parade,” Aunt B said. “But I’ve never seen him physically put food into a woman’s hands. He’s a very private man, so he might have done it in an intimate moment, but I would’ve found out eventually. Something like that doesn’t stay hidden in the Keep. Do you understand now? That’s a sign of a very serious interest, dear.” “But I didn’t know what it meant!” Aunt B frowned. “Doesn’t matter. You need to be very careful right now. When Curran wants something, he doesn’t become distracted. He goes after it and he doesn’t stop until he obtains his goal no matter what it takes. That tenacity is what makes him an alpha.” “You’re scaring me.” “Scared might be too strong a word, but in your place, I would definitely be concerned.” I wished I were back home, where I could get to my bottle of sangria. This clearly counted as a dire emergency. As if reading my thoughts, Aunt B rose, took a small bottle from a cabinet, and poured me a shot. I took it, and drained it in one gulp, letting tequila slide down my throat like liquid fire. “Feel better?” “It helped.” Curran had driven me to drinking. At least I wasn’t contemplating suicide.
Ilona Andrews (Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, #2))
Many, Lorenzo, have held and still hold the opinion, that there is nothing which has less in common with another, and that is so dissimilar, as civilian life is from the military. Whence it is often observed, if anyone designs to avail himself of an enlistment in the army, that he soon changes, not only his clothes, but also his customs, his habits, his voice, and in the presence of any civilian custom, he goes to pieces; for I do not believe that any man can dress in civilian clothes who wants to be quick and ready for any violence; nor can that man have civilian customs and habits, who judges those customs to be effeminate and those habits not conducive to his actions; nor does it seem right to him to maintain his ordinary appearance and voice who, with his beard and cursing, wants to make other men afraid: which makes such an opinion in these times to be very true. But if they should consider the ancient institutions, they would not find matter more united, more in conformity, and which, of necessity, should be like to each other as much as these (civilian and military); for in all the arts that are established in a society for the sake of the common good of men, all those institutions created to (make people) live in fear of the laws and of God would be in vain, if their defense had not been provided for and which, if well arranged, will maintain not only these, but also those that are not well established. And so (on the contrary), good institutions without the help of the military are not much differently disordered than the habitation of a superb and regal palace, which, even though adorned with jewels and gold, if it is not roofed over will not have anything to protect it from the rain. And, if in any other institutions of a City and of a Republic every diligence is employed in keeping men loyal, peaceful, and full of the fear of God, it is doubled in the military; for in what man ought the country look for greater loyalty than in that man who has to promise to die for her? In whom ought there to be a greater love of peace, than in him who can only be injured by war? In whom ought there to be a greater fear of God than in him who, undergoing infinite dangers every day, has more need for His aid? If these necessities in forming the life of the soldier are well considered, they are found to be praised by those who gave the laws to the Commanders and by those who were put in charge of military training, and followed and imitated with all diligence by others.
Niccolò Machiavelli (The Art of War)
Despite the intervening six decades of scientific inquiry since Selye’s groundbreaking work, the physiological impact of the emotions is still far from fully appreciated. The medical approach to health and illness continues to suppose that body and mind are separable from each other and from the milieu in which they exist. Compounding that mistake is a definition of stress that is narrow and simplistic. Medical thinking usually sees stress as highly disturbing but isolated events such as, for example, sudden unemployment, a marriage breakup or the death of a loved one. These major events are potent sources of stress for many, but there are chronic daily stresses in people’s lives that are more insidious and more harmful in their long-term biological consequences. Internally generated stresses take their toll without in any way seeming out of the ordinary. For those habituated to high levels of internal stress since early childhood, it is the absence of stress that creates unease, evoking boredom and a sense of meaninglessness. People may become addicted to their own stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, Hans Selye observed. To such persons stress feels desirable, while the absence of it feels like something to be avoided. When people describe themselves as being stressed, they usually mean the nervous agitation they experience under excessive demands — most commonly in the areas of work, family, relationships, finances or health. But sensations of nervous tension do not define stress — nor, strictly speaking, are they always perceived when people are stressed. Stress, as we will define it, is not a matter of subjective feeling. It is a measurable set of objective physiological events in the body, involving the brain, the hormonal apparatus, the immune system and many other organs. Both animals and people can experience stress with no awareness of its presence. “Stress is not simply nervous tension,” Selye pointed out. “Stress reactions do occur in lower animals, and even in plants, that have no nervous systems…. Indeed, stress can be produced under deep anaesthesia in patients who are unconscious, and even in cell cultures grown outside the body.” Similarly, stress effects can be highly active in persons who are fully awake, but who are in the grip of unconscious emotions or cut off from their body responses. The physiology of stress may be triggered without observable effects on behaviour and without subjective awareness, as has been shown in animal experiments and in human studies.
Gabor Maté (When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress)
I pulled at the knot again and heard threads begin to pop. “Allow me, Miss Jones,” said Armand, right at my back. There was no gracious way to refuse him. Not with Mrs. Westcliffe there, too. I exhaled and dropped my arms. I stared at the lotus petals in my painting as the new small twists and tugs of Armand’s hands rocked me back and forth. Jesse’s music began to reverberate somewhat more sharply than before. “There,” Armand said, soft near my ear. “Nearly got it.” “Most kind of you, my lord.” Mrs. Westcliffe’s voice was far more carrying. “Do you not agree, Miss Jones?” Her tone said I’d better. “Most kind,” I repeated. For some reason I felt him as a solid warmth behind me, behind all of me, even though only his knuckles made a gentle bumping against my spine. How blasted long could it take to unravel a knot? “Yes,” said Chloe unexpectedly. “Lord Armand is always a perfect gentleman, no matter who or what demands his attention.” “There,” the gentleman said, and at last his hands fell away. The front of the smock sagged loose. I shrugged out of it as fast as I could, wadding it up into a ball. “Excuse me.” I ducked a curtsy and began my escape to the hamper, but Mrs. Westcliffe cut me short. “A moment, Miss Jones. We require your presence.” I turned to face them. Armand was smiling his faint, cool smile. Mrs. Westcliffe looked as if she wished to fix me in some way. I raised a hand instinctively to my hair, trying to press it properly into place. “You have the honor of being invited to tea at the manor house,” the headmistress said. “To formally meet His Grace.” “Oh,” I said. “How marvelous.” I’d rather have a tooth pulled out. “Indeed. Lord Armand came himself to deliver the invitation.” “Least I could do,” said Armand. “It wasn’t far. This Saturday, if that’s all right.” “Um…” “I am certain Miss Jones will be pleased to cancel any other plans,” said Mrs. Westcliffe. “This Saturday?” Unlike me, Chloe had not concealed an inch of ground. “Why, Mandy! That’s the day you promised we’d play lawn tennis.” He cocked a brow at her, and I knew right then that she was lying and that she knew that he knew. She sent him a melting smile. “Isn’t it, my lord?” “I must have forgotten,” he said. “Well, but we cannot disappoint the duke, can we?” “No, indeed,” interjected Mrs. Westcliffe. “So I suppose you’ll have to come along to the tea instead, Chloe.” “Very well. If you insist.” He didn’t insist. He did, however, sweep her a very deep bow and then another to the headmistress. “And you, too, Mrs. Westcliffe. Naturally. The duke always remarks upon your excellent company.” “Most kind,” she said again, and actually blushed. Armand looked dead at me. There was that challenge behind his gaze, that one I’d first glimpsed at the train station. “We find ourselves in harmony, then. I shall see you in a few days, Miss Jones.” I tightened my fingers into the wad of the smock and forced my lips into an upward curve. He smiled back at me, that cold smile that said plainly he wasn’t duped for a moment. I did not get a bow. Jesse was at the hamper when I went to toss in the smock. Before I could, he took it from me, eyes cast downward, no words. Our fingers brushed beneath the cloth. That fleeting glide of his skin against mine. The sensation of hardened calluses stroking me, tender and rough at once. The sweet, strong pleasure that spiked through me, brief as it was. That had been on purpose. I was sure of it.
Shana Abe (The Sweetest Dark (The Sweetest Dark, #1))
But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:20-24). Renew your mind to the Word, and put on the new man! Ephesians 4:24 plainly reveals that your born-again spirit—the new man—was created after God in righteousness and true holiness. You need to recognize and acknowledge your true self in God’s mirror. Right now in your spirit, you are righteous and holy! At times, you might think, I’m getting holier, but in reality, you’re just referring to your actions in the physical realm. The degree of holiness you live outwardly may vary, but the nature of your born-again spirit is righteousness and true holiness. That’s why you must worship Him in spirit and truth! “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Your spirit is the part of you that completely changed. Old things passed away. All things became new. You cannot approach God unless you come to Him through the righteousness and true holiness of who you are in the spirit. You aren’t worthy to come into His presence based on the righteousness and holiness of your thoughts and actions. Even at your best, you still fall short of doing everything you should. Even when you’ve been seeking the Lord wholeheartedly, you still have negative and impure thoughts in your mind. No matter how hard you try, you’ll never measure up to God’s perfection through your own efforts in the physical, emotional, and mental realms.
Andrew Wommack (Spirit, Soul and Body)
And then there are colors. The truth is that the brain knows far less about colors than one might suppose. It sees more or less clearly what the eyes show it, but when it comes to converting what it has seen into knowledge, it often suffers from one might call difficulties in orientation. Thanks to the unconscious confidence of a lifetime's experience, it unhesitatingly utters the names of the colors it calls elementary and complementary, but it immediately lost, perplexed and uncertain when it tries to formulate words that might serve as labels or explanatory markers for the things that verge on the ineffable, that border on the incommunicable, for the still nascent color which, with the eyes' other bemused approval and complicity, the hands and fingers are in the process of inventing and which will probably never even have its own name. Or perhaps it already does -- a name known only to the hands, because they mixed the paint as if they were dismantling the constituent parts of a note of music, because they became smeared with the color and kept the stain deep inside the dermis, and because only with the invisible knowledge of the fingers will one ever be able to paint the infinite fabric of dreams. Trusting in what the eyes believe they have seen, the brain-in-the-head states that, depending on conditions of light and shade, on the presence or absence of wind, on whether it is wet or dry, the beach is white or yellow or olden or gray or purple or any other shade in between, but then along comes the fingers and, with a gesture of gathering in, as if harvesting a wheat field, they pluck from the ground all the colors of the world. What seemed unique was plural, what is plural will become more so. It is equally true, though, that in the exultant flash of a single tone or shade, or in its musical modulation, all the other tones and shades are also present and alive, both the tones or shades of colors that have already been name, as well as those awaiting names, just as an apparently smooth, flat surface can both conceal and display the traces of everything ever experience in the history of the world. All archaeology of matter is an archaeology of humanity. What this clay hides and shows is the passage of a being through time and space, the marks left by fingers, the scratches left by fingernails, the ashes and the charred logs of burned-out bonfires, our bones and those of others, the endlessly bifurcating paths disappearing off into the distance and merging with each other. This grain on the surface is a memory, this depression the mark left by a recumbent body. The brain asked a question and made a request, the hand answered and acted.
José Saramago (The Cave)
Your butler informed me you were here. I thought-that is, I wondered how things were going.” “And since my butler didn’t know,” Ian concluded with amused irritation, “you decided to call on Elizabeth and see if you could discover for yourself?” “Something like that,” the vicar said calmly. “Elizabeth regards me as a friend, I think. And so I planned to call on her and, if you weren’t here, to put in a good word for you.” “Only one?” Ian said mildly. The vicar did not back down; he rarely did, particularly in matters of morality or justice. “Given your treatment of her, I was hard pressed to think of one. How did matters turn out with your grandfather?” “Well enough,” Ina said, his mind on meeting with Elizabeth. “He’s here in London.” “And?” “And,” Ian said sardonically, “you may now address me as ‘my lord.’” “I’ve come here,” Duncan persisted implacably, “to address you as ‘the bridegroom.’” A flash of annoyance crossed Ian’s tanned features. “You never stop pressing, do you? I’ve managed my own life for thirty years, Duncan. I think I can do it now.” Duncan had the grace to look slightly abashed. “You’re right, of course. Shall I leave?” Ian considered the benefits of Duncan’s soothing presence and reluctantly shook his head. “No. In fact, since you’re here,” he continued as they neared the top step, “you may as well be the one to announce us to the butler. I can’t get past him.” Duncan lifted the knocker while bestowing a mocking glance on Ian. “You can’t get past the butler, and you think you’re managing very well without me?” Declining to rise to that bait, Ian remained silent. The door opened a moment later, and the butler looked politely from Duncan, who began to give his name, to Ian. To Duncan’s startled disbelief, the door came crashing forward in his face. An instant before it banged into its frame Ian twisted, slamming his shoulder into it and sending the butler flying backward into the hall and ricocheting off the wall. In a low, savage voice he said, “Tell your mistress I’m here, or I’ll find her myself and tell her.” With a glance of furious outrage the older man considered Ian’s superior size and powerful frame, then turned and started reluctantly for a room ahead and to the left, where muted voices could be heard. Duncan eyed Ian with one gray eyebrow lifted and said sardonically, “Very clever of you to ingratiate yourself so well with Elizabeth’s servants.” The group in the drawing room reacted with diverse emotions to Bentner’s announcement that “Thornton is here and forced his way into the house.” The dowager duchess looked fascinated, Julius looked both relived and dismayed, Alexandra looked wary, and Elizabeth, who was still preoccupied with her uncle’s unstated purpose for his visit, looked nonplussed. Only Lucinda showed no expression at all, but she laid her needlework aside and lifted her face attentively toward the doorway.
Judith McNaught (Almost Heaven (Sequels, #3))
In the nouveau roman of Robbe-Grillet there is an attempt at a more or less Copernican change in the relation between the paradigm and the text. In Camus the counter-pointing is less doctrinaire; in Dostoevsky there is no evidence of any theoretical stand at all, simply rich originality within or without, as it chances, normal expectations. All these are novels which most of us would agree (and it is by a consensus of this kind only that these matters, quite rightly, are determined) to be at least very good. They represent in varying degrees that falsification of simple expectations as to the structure of a future which constitutes peripeteia. We cannot, of course, be denied an end; it is one of the great charms of books that they have to end. But unless we are extremely naive, as some apocalyptic sects still are, we do not ask that they progress towards that end precisely as we have been given to believe. In fact we should expect only the most trivial work to conform to pre-existent types. It is essential to the drift of all these talks that what I call the scepticism of the clerisy operates in the person of the reader as a demand for constantly changing, constantly more subtle, relationships between a fiction and the paradigms, and that this expectation enables a writer much inventive scope as he works to meet and transcend it. The presence of such paradigms in fictions may be necessary-that is a point I shall be discussing later--but if the fictions satisfy the clerisy, the paradigms will be to a varying but always great extent attenuated or obscured. The pressure of reality on us is always varying, as Stevens might have said: the fictions must change, or if they are fixed, the interpretations must change. Since we continue to 'prescribe laws to nature'--Kant's phrase, and we do--we shall continue to have a relation with the paradigms, but we shall change them to make them go on working. If we cannot break free of them, we must make sense of them.
Frank Kermode (The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction)
Even without world wars, revolutions and emigration, siblings growing up in the same home almost never share the same environment. More accurately, brothers and sisters share some environments — usually the less important ones — but they rarely share the one single environment that has the most powerful impact on personality formation. They may live in the same house, eat the same kinds of food, partake in many of the same activities. These are environments of secondary importance. Of all environments, the one that most profoundly shapes the human personality is the invisible one: the emotional atmosphere in which the child lives during the critical early years of brain development. The invisible environment has little to do with parenting philosophies or parenting style. It is a matter of intangibles, foremost among them being the parents’ relationship with each other and their emotional balance as individuals. These, too, can vary significantly from the birth of one child to the arrival of another. Psychological tension in the parents’ lives during the child’s infancy is, I am convinced, a major and universal influence on the subsequent emergence of ADD. A hidden factor of great importance is a parent’s unconscious attitude toward a child: what, or whom, on the deepest level, the child represents for the parents; the degree to which the parents see themselves in the child; the needs parents may have that they subliminally hope the child will meet. For the infant there exists no abstract, “out-there” reality. The emotional milieu with which we surround the child is the world as he experiences it. In the words of the child psychiatrist and researcher Margaret Mahler, for the newborn, the parent is “the principal representative of the world.” To the infant and toddler, the world reveals itself in the image of the parent: in eye contact, intensity of glance, body language, tone of voice and, above all, in the day-today joy or emotional fatigue exhibited in the presence of the child. Whatever a parent’s intention, these are the means by which the child receives his or her most formative communications. Although they will be of paramount importance for development of the child’s personality, these subtle and often unconscious influences will be missed on psychological questionnaires or observations of parents in clinical settings. There is no way to measure a softening or an edge of anxiety in the voice, the warmth of a smile or the depth of furrows on a brow. We have no instruments to gauge the tension in a father’s body as he holds his infant or to record whether a mother’s gaze is clouded by worry or clear with calm anticipation. It may be said that no two children have exactly the same parents, in that the parenting they each receive may vary in highly significant ways. Whatever the hopes, wishes or intentions of the parent, the child does not experience the parent directly: the child experiences the parenting. I have known two siblings to disagree vehemently about their father’s personality during their childhood. Neither has to be wrong if we understand that they did not receive the same fathering, which is what formed their experience of the father. I have even seen subtly but significantly different mothering given to a pair of identical twins.
Gabor Maté (Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It)
The beauty of Mars exists in the human mind. without the human presence it is just a concatenation of atoms, no different than any other random speck of matter in the universe. It's we who understand it, and we who give it meaning. All our centuries of looking up at the night sky and watching it wander through the stars. All those nights of watching it through the telescopes, looking at a tiny disk trying to see canals in the albedo changes. All those dumb sci-fi novels with their monsters and maidens and dying civilizations. And all the scientists who studied the data, or got us here. That's what makes Mars Beautiful. Not the basalt and the oxides. Now that we are here, it isn't enough to just hide under ten meters of soil and study the rock. That's science, yes, and needed science too. But science is more than that. Science is part of a larger human enterprise, and that enterprise includes going to the stars, adapting to other planets, adapting them to us. Science is creation. The lack of life here, and the lack of any finding in fifty years of the SETI program, indicates that life is rare, and intelligent life even rarer. And yet the whole meaning of the universe, its beauty, is contained in the consciousness of intelligent life. We are the consciousness of the universe, and our job is to spread that around, to go look at things, to live everywhere we can. It's too dangerous to keep the consciousness of the universe on only one planet, it could be wiped out. And so now we're on two, three if you count the moon. And we can change this one to make it safer to live on. Changing it won't destroy it. Reading its past might get harder, but the beauty of it won't go away. If there are lakes, or forests, or glaciers, how does that diminish Mars beauty? I don't think it does. I think it only enhances it. It adds life, the most beautiful system of all. But nothing life can do will bring Tharsis down, or fill Marineris. Mars will always remain Mars, different from Earth, colder and wilder. But it can be Mars and ours at the same time. And it will be. There is this about the human mind; if it can be done, it will be done. We can transform Mars and build it like you would build a cathedral, as a monument to humanity and the universe both. We can do it, so we will do it. So, we might as well start.
Kim Stanley Robinson
The next morning I showed up at dad’s house at eight, with a hangover. All my brothers’ trucks were parked in front. What are they all doing here? When I opened the front door, Dad, Alan, Jase, and Willie looked at me. They were sitting around the living room, waiting. No one smiled, and the air felt really heavy. I looked to my left, where Mom was usually working in the kitchen, but this time she was still, leaning over the counter and looking at me too. Dad spoke first. “Son, are you ready to change?” Everything else seemed to go silent and fade away, and all I heard was my dad’s voice. “I just want you to know we’ve come to a decision as a family. You’ve got two choices. You keep doing what you’re doing--maybe you’ll live through it--but we don’t want nothin’ to do with you. Somebody can drop you off at the highway, and then you’ll be on your own. You can go live your life; we’ll pray for you and hope that you come back one day. And good luck to you in this world.” He paused for a second then went on, a little quieter. “Your other choice is that you can join this family and follow God. You know what we stand for. We’re not going to let you visit our home while you’re carrying on like this. You give it all up, give up all those friends, and those drugs, and come home. Those are your two choices.” I struggled to breathe, my head down and my chest tight. No matter what happened, I knew I would never forget this moment. My breath left me in a rush, and I fell to my knees in front of them all and started crying. “Dad, what took y’all so long?” I burst out. I felt broken, and I began to tell them about the sorry and dangerous road I’d been traveling down. I could see my brothers’ eyes starting to fill with tears too. I didn’t dare look at my mom’s face although I could feel her presence behind me. I knew she’d already been through the hell of addiction with her own mother, with my dad, with her brother-in-law Si, and with my oldest brother, Alan. And now me, her baby. I remembered the letters she’d been writing to me over the last few months, reaching out with words of love from her heart and from the heart of the Lord. Suddenly, I felt guilty. “Dad, I don’t deserve to come back. I’ve been horrible. Let me tell you some more.” “No, son,” he answered. “You’ve told me enough.” I’ve seen my dad cry maybe three times, and that was one of them. To see my dad that upset hit me right in the gut. He took me by my shoulders and said, “I want you to know that God loves you, and we love you, but you just can’t live like that anymore.” “I know. I want to come back home,” I said. I realized my dad understood. He’d been down this road before and come back home. He, too, had been lost and then found. By this time my brothers were crying, and they got around me, and we were on our knees, crying. I prayed out loud to God, “Thank You for getting me out of this because I am done living the way I’ve been living.” “My prodigal son has returned,” Dad said, with tears of joy streaming down his face. It was the best day of my life. I could finally look over at my mom, and she was hanging on to the counter for dear life, crying, and shaking with happiness. A little later I felt I had to go use the bathroom. My stomach was a mess from the stress and the emotions. But when I was in the bathroom with the door shut, my dad thought I might be in there doing one last hit of something or drinking one last drop, so he got up, came over, and started banging on the bathroom door. Before I could do anything, he kicked in the door. All he saw was me sitting on the pot and looking up at him while I about had a heart attack. It was not our finest moment. That afternoon after my brothers had left, we went into town and packed up and moved my stuff out of my apartment. “Hey bro,” I said to my roommate. “I’m changing my life. I’ll see ya later.” I meant it.
Jep Robertson (The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God: What Honesty and Pain Taught Us About Faith, Family, and Forgiveness)