I have been thinking again about the quotations I post every day, how they’re like rungs on a ladder for me, steps toward ideas that I am seeking, seeds of ideas that I am watering and nurturing. Sometimes they’re a little harsh and jangly, and that is well and good, because I am feeling a little harsh and jangly these days, full of nerves easily frayed by the next round of cynicism and rudeness and cruelty and tragedy.
Then I find another quotation that blows cooling breeze over the rippling waters of my soul. Or someone posts a picture of a man carrying a pink umbrella to shield his family from the sun, and his wife, with their baby on her back, wraps an arm companionably about his waist. Or a student comes up to me with shining eyes and a world-changing idea. Or the mist lies over the fields of drying sunflowers like a road to Avalon.
And I find myself back at the start again, learning as if for the first time, that my heart must hold them all, both the jangly and the tender.
I watch my skittish cat, the longing in his eyes to be part of the action, and the constant anxiety, the startlement at every tiny sound. He’s so sensitive, so wound up, so completely attentive to it all, that he sometimes gets paralyzed, and can’t function except to flee and hide. When we determine that our Work is to pay closer attention, to increase our sensitivity, to care more deeply, it is possible to become as tightly wound as poor Sachs, and tremble in fear at any change in atmosphere. In days like these, it’s important to me that I remember the pink umbrella and the shining eyes and the mist. If I don’t want to get completely jangled and twitchy, I must keep looking for the feathers and the sparkling morning cobwebs, must listen for the racket of robins in the hollow each morning, must breathe in the scent of autumn in the air.
“The world has been abnormal for so long that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to live in a peaceful and reasonable climate. If there is to be any peace or reason, we have to create it in our own hearts and homes.”
—Madeleine L’Engle, A Swiftly Tilting Planet
“People are just trees who have forgotten.”
“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being.” —Goethe
“My actions are my only true belongings.” —Thich Nhat Hanh
“If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.” —Erica Jong
“The women, united, will never be defeated.” —Ubaka Hill
“Life is a luminous pause between two great mysteries, which themselves are one.” —C. G. Jung
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” —John Steinbeck
2. Paying Attention
3. Waking Up
4. Beginning Again
May we walk in Beauty!