Tasting Life Twice

Archive for the category “Quotes”

Witnessing the Glory: the Venus Transit

“We are here to abet Creation and to witness it, to notice each thing so each thing each gets noticed. Together we notice not only each mountain shadow and each stone on the beach but we notice each other’s beautiful faces and complex natures so that Creation need not play to an empty house.”

~Annie Dillard, in a statement on The Meaning of Life for Life Magazine

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The Holy Instincts of Christmas

image There are all kinds of things wrong with the way we celebrate Christmas. We eat too much, we spend too much, we sentimentalize too much, we worry too much. Those excesses cannot douse the holy instincts that underlie them. We really are hungry. We really do want to give and receive. We really do want to feel deeply, live peaceably, sleep soundly and rise renewed. As the season moves toward its apogee, those of us who believe we know where the instincts lead may do more good by wading into the culture than by separating ourselves from it. God is in the midst of it, after all, still hunting new flesh in which to be born. – Barbara Brown Taylor

Dreamers After Dark – The Poetic Imagination

At church I’ve been teaching on the gospel as “story” and the imaginative character of faith (“seeing that which is unseen” – Hebrews 11:1).  These lines from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s epic poem Aurora Leigh (1856) help make the point (props to Laura for sending this my way). 

——————–

What’s this, Aurora Leigh,
You write so of the poets, and not laugh?
Those virtuous liars, dreamers after dark,
Exaggerators of the sun and moon,
And soothsayers in a tea-cup?
I write so
Of the only truth-tellers, now left to God,-
The only speakers of essential truth,
Posed to relative, comparative,
And temporal truths; the only holders by
His sun-skirts, through conventional grey glooms;
The only teachers who instruct mankind,
From just a shadow on a charnel wall,
To find man’s veritable stature out,
Erect, sublime,-the measure of a man,
And that’s the measure of an angel, says
The apostle. Ay, and while your common men
Build pyramids, gauge railroads, reign, reap, dine,
And dust the flaunty carpets of the world
For kings to walk on, or our senators,
The poet suddenly will catch them up
With his voice like a thunder.  ‘This is soul,
This is life, this word is being said in heaven,
Here’s God down on us! what are you about?
How all those workers start amid their work,
Look round, look up, and feel, a moment’s space,
That carpet-dusting, though a pretty trade,
Is not the imperative labour after all.

The Lost Tribe of Storytellers

image I belong to an ancient, idle, wild and useless tribe, perhaps I am even one of the last members of it, who, for many thousands of years, in all countries and parts of the world, has, now and again, stayed for a time among the hard-working honest people in real life, and sometimes has thus been fortunate enough to create another sort of reality for them, which in some way or another, has satisfied them. I am a storyteller.

Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen, author of Out of Africa)

Reading the Face of the River

image “The face of the water, in time, became a wonderful book – a book that was a dead language to the uneducated passenger, which told its mind to me without reserve, delivering its most cherished secrets as clearly as if it uttered them with a voice. And it was not a book to be read once and thrown aside, for it had a new story to tell every day…Now when I had mastered the language of this water and had come to know every trifling feature that bordered the great river as familiarly as I knew the letters of the alphabet, I had made a valuable acquisition. But I had lost something, too. I had lost something which could never be restored to me while I lived. All the grace, the beauty, the poetry had gone out of the majestic river!….No, the romance and the beauty were all gone from the river.”

Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi

The People We Bump Into

Along the way you bump into people who make a dent on your life. Some people get struck by lightning. Some are born to sit by a river. Some have an ear for music. Some are artists. Some swim the English Channel. Some know buttons. Some know Shakespeare. Some are mothers. And some people can dance.

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The Reverent Savage

https://i0.wp.com/www.thehollywoodnews.com/artman2/uploads/1/mark-twain.jpgAs a long time aficionado of all things having to do with Mark Twain, and in recognition that we are nearing the centennial of his death (April 21, 2010), I am going to start posting some of my favorite Twain observations and witticisms. As a child growing up Hannibal, MO, I was immersed in the stories and characters that Twain brought to life.  As an adult, he continues to be a conversation partner across a broad range of topics. 

“We have not the reverent feeling for the rainbow that a savage has, because we know how it was made.  We have lost as much as we have gained by prying into that matter.” A Tramp Abroad

The More Real World of the Wonderful

When we have drunk our tea, Mum reads to me. I lie on the cot image under the army alphabet chart. She reads C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Lucy is in the land where it will never be summer, snow crunches underfoot. The sultry afternoon, pale with light-washing sun and the faint hum of traffic from the road that passes the police station all wash into the background. I am transported to a cool snowy world with fawns and witches and Peter and Susan and Edmund and Aslan. I shut my eyes and spread myself out so that my sweating skin can cool; the world of Narnia is more real and wonderful than the world I am alive in.

Alexandra Fuller, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight

Somebodyism at the Roller Rink

Anne Lamott, in her book Bird by Bird writes:

“I heard Ram Dass say on the radio once, about somebodyism, how most of us are raised to be somebodies and what a no-win game that is to buy into, because while you may turn out to be much more somebody than somebody else, a lot of other people are going to be a lot more somebody than you. And you are going to drive yourself crazy.”

I was reminded of this again today. The children and I went roller skating today at Empire Roller Rink. I never was very good at roller skating as a child. But I have had a bit more practice now as a father. It’s sort of a rite of passage for American youth to experience the limbo contest, the all-skate, speed skate, the couples skate and all other permutations of this mating sport.
Today I was feeling pretty proud of my fluid movements. I felt unexpectedly agile and dexterous. Even the youngest two were impressed with their dad’s abilities; until, that is, a guy started motoring past Elly and me.
Elly said, “Look at that, dad.’
“Look at what?” I asked.
“That guy in front of us. He’s going backwards. Can you do that?”
“Uh, no.”
“Why not?”
“Because I’m not that good.”
Suddenly, somebody else was more somebody than me.
Any suppressed dreams I ever had of being an adult winner of the speed skate contest (with all of its attendant fame and its prize of a giant Pixie Stick) quickly faded today.

The Gift of Conscience

The most compelling reason for desiring to have conscience, rather than wishing to be free of it, is not the list of ruinous disadvantages that accrue to sociopathy. No, the best part of possessing a moral sense is the deep and beautiful gift that comes to us inside, and only inside, the wrappings of conscience. The ability to love comes bundled up in conscience, just as our spirits are bundled up in our bodies. Conscience is the embodiment of love.
Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door, 191

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