People often use religious terminology when they speak of the spiritual or transcendent. Our yearning to find whole-ness as holiness, and at-one-ment as atonement, fills a need ancient and essential as air. Because English vocabulary offers few ways to describe religious events, except in churchly terms, I often resort to such words as sacred, grace, reverence, worship, holy, sanctity, and benediction, which I cherish as powerful feelings, moods, and ideas. I’m an Earth ecstatic, and my creed is simple: All life is sacred, life loves life, and we are capable of improving our behavior toward one another. As basic as that is, for me it’s also tonic and deeply spiritual, glorifying the smallest life-form and embracing the most distant stars.
~ Diane Ackerman
I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.
There is nothing I can give you which you have not already, but there is much, very much, which though I cannot give it, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today.
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this precious little instant.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach is joy. There is radiance and courage in the darkness could we but see; and to see, we have only to look.
Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by their coverings, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love, and wisdom, and power. Welcome it, greet it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it.
Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there, the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing Presence.
Our joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.
Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.
Courage, then, to claim it, that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims wending through unknown country our way home.
~ Letter to a friend written by Italian friar and painter
Giovanni da Fiesole, known as Fra Angelico, 1387-1455
Wishing you the happiest of holidays possible given the circumstances this year. Find the light in the darkness and allow it to grow. Or, as the song goes, may your days be merry and bright.
For those that might want a little music with that: Sunny Christmas. It’s a cheerful song with wonderful lyrics. Enjoy.
To go into the dark with a light
is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark,
go without sight.
that the dark too
blooms and sings
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.
~ Wendell Berry
True emptiness is also an openness of being. It is an ongoing receptivity to the wonder of life.
~ Beverly Lanzetta
‘Emptiness’ means empty of a separate self. It is full of everything, full of life. The word emptiness should not scare us. It is a wonderful word. To be empty does not mean non-existent. Emptiness is the ground of everything. Thanks to emptiness, everything is possible.
~Thich Nhat Hanh
Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
~ e. e. cummings
My word of the year is listen.
It’s one of those words whose meaning is in its music. Listen is a quiet word, that half swallowed L and diffident I and softly hissing S. It defies the clamorous words it absorbs, the words that have defined this year, the shouts and roars, the bray and bluster. Listening is hard when the sounds around us grow mean and ugly.
And listening takes particular courage in divisive times.
It’s long past time that we quiet our animal spirits. Our fierce public battles, political fights that have infected our friendships and family, have degraded our discourse, defaced institutions, disturbed our peace. I grew up in Quaker schools, which included regular silent meetings. This did not come naturally to nine-year-olds. But I found then, and need to be reminded now, that we can’t hear the soft, sane voice inside us if we’re talking all the time, and certainly not if we’re shouting.
Instead, let’s listen. Invite surprise. Invest in subtlety. And surrender to silence once in a while.
~ Nancy Gibbs
We can live any way we want. People take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience – even of silence – by choice. The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into that pulse. This is yielding, not fighting.
~ Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk