Cross-fertilization always makes for interesting combinations, novel sparks. Recently, I ran a number of very different kinds of writers, C.S. Lewis, John Updike, G.K. Chesterton, Iris Murdoch, William Auden, Keith Clark, Anne Frank, John of the Cross, H. Belloc, Catherine Doherty, Paul Ricoeur, Thomas Merton, Virginia Wolf, Sheila Cassidy, Henri Nouwen, Margaret Atwood, Andrew Greely, Sheldon Vanauken, Eric Mascall, Ruth Burrows, Blaise Pascal, T.S. Eliot, Alfred North Whitehead, Peter Maurin, Democratis, and H.W. Longfellow through a blender.
The resulting mix offers the following perspectives:
- What touches you is what you touch! Create a Christ-room within your home and heart. Make sure there is “room in the inn,” somebody pregnant with Christ is bound to knock.
- Be easy on others, we all have our secret sorrows which the world knows not and often we are called cold when we are only sad.
- Be less paranoid, it is absurd to be so hard on others when their lives are as arduous and difficult as our own. Chastize only what you deeply love.
- God instituted prayer in order to lend creatures the dignity of causality.
- Ask God to hang onto you, lest you slip away from him.
- Know that we have but one ultimate choice, genuflection or self-destruction and that it is only when we make a holy day for God that we make a holiday for ourselves.
- Pray unceasingly, there is no end of it, the voiceless wailing, the withering of withered flowers, the movement of pain that is painless and motionless, the drift of the sea and the drifting of wreckage.
- But don’t confuse prayer with narcissism, neurosis is clinging to self, prayer is clinging to God.
- Don’t look for quick answers; we will spend most of eternity thanking God for those prayers of others that he didn’t answer.
- The universe is full of divine discontent, of tiny deities, sparks from the anvil of God.
- Eros is God’s hold on us and, as such, remains good. Turned upside down, blackened, distorted and filthy, it still bears the traces of divinity.
- All miracles begin with the act of falling in love and have their root in eros. But have a metaphysics of sex because all of us know the few things that man, as a mammal, can do.
- Practice the discipline of the slow demanding generosity of genuine experience knowing that monogamous sex is but a small price to pay for so exclusive and deep a union.
- Wait patiently in expectation for that is the foundation of the spiritual life.
- Know that it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of a living God and that those who do so find there a peace quite different than that described in tourist brochures.
- Know that faith is an assent that implies restless cogitation and risk, darkness, and blood. In the invisible shedding of blood we can find both the seeds for a new faith and those of a lost one.
On the Earthiness and Paganity of Christianity:
- Christianity is the only religion that has preserved the pleasure of paganism. God is neither plastic, pious, nor metaphysical. A God who appears in religion under the frigid title of first cause will be appropriately worshipped in sterile churches.
- Take full account of your own humanity, your sofas and chairs know secrets about you that your lovers don’t.
- Slip, daily, back into a fetal darkness in which you learn to understand more by not understanding than by understanding.
- Know that the greatest of all illusions is the illusion of familiarity and the truth is lost in the intermediate condition of fatigue and lost innocence. So learn to look at things familiar until they look unfamiliar again.
- Know too that a great person is the person who has the heart of a child and that we are as much engaged in the task of unlearning as in learning.
- In the end, our aim is to arrive again at the place from which we started and know that place for the first time, in second naivete, beyond the deserts of criticism and lost innocence.
- Friendship is salvation, grace incarnate, enfleshed, Scripture’s written page alive in life.
- God gives us many friends, and each of them plays a unique role in our thinking, feeling, speaking and acting.
- In friendship we taste, a little, the love that launched the universe in a vast bang. The taste is slight…a bit of light in the gloom, a bit of life in the entrophy, a bit of love in the indifference; maybe it’s enough, maybe it’s everything.
- Sin bravely! Know that only a saint can afford to die a saint’s death and that the rest of us need to go out in our own eyes and in the eyes of our entourage as the sinners that we are.
- Admit mistakes: “It seemed like a good idea at the time!”
- Do not let anything come between your soul and its sin, it is too dangerous.
- The universe rings true when you test it honestly. A fall, honestly admitted, is an opportunity to identify with God’s little ones and to start again. Claim your place among the broken and among those whose loyalties are so torn as to leave them asking for forgiveness.
On Gratitude and Joy:
- It is the duty of every Christian to be as happy as s/he can.
- A saint is someone who is motivated by gratitude.
- Remember it is easier to be heavy than light, resentful than forgiving, morose than joyful.
- The asceticism of joy is the ultimate mortification.
On Hope and Happy Endings:
- Art and life must be kept separate.
- Life ends not in unreal romanticism nor in the unresolved tension of stoicism, but in an embrace of God where all manner of being will be well and the fire and the rose will be one.
- Do not then be troubled by the increasing forces already in dissolution, you have mistaken the hour for night, it is already morning.
- Hang onto your ideals, the day will come when, despite all you will be able to live them.