It’s not only moving that creates new starting points. Sometimes all it takes is a subtle shift in perspective, an opening of the mind, an intentional pause and reset, or a new route to start to see new options and new possibilities.Kristin Armstrong
For most of my life I have struggled to find God, to know God, to love God. I have tried hard to follow the guidelines of the spiritual life—pray always, work for others, read the Scriptures—and to avoid the many temptations to dissipate myself. I have failed many times but always tried again, even when I was close to despair.
Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not “How am I to find God?” but “How am I to let myself be found by him?” The question is not “How am I to know God?” but “How am I to let myself be known by God?” And, finally, the question is not “How am I to love God?” but “How am I to let myself be loved by God?” God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.
― Henri J.M. Nouwen from The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming
I love the fact that the word “humus”–the decayed vegetable matter that feeds the roots of plants–comes from the same word root that gives rise to the word “humility.” It is a blessed etymology. It helps me understand that the humiliating events of life, the events that leave “mud on my face” or that “make my name mud,” may create the fertile soil in which something new can grow.
— Palmer J. Parker from Let Your Life Speak
Each of us has our own measure of pain. Sometimes the pain we suffer is great and obvious; sometimes it is subtle. Our pain can reflect the coldness of our families, the trauma of our parents, the stultifying influence of modern society. As a result, we often feel that we have been cast out. To survive we have to cover our heart, build up a layer of clay, and defend ourselves. We lose the belief that we are worthy of love.
The mystic Simone Weil tells us, “The danger is not that the soul should doubt whether there is any bread, but that, by a lie, it should persuade itself that it is not hungry.” Compassion reminds us that we do belong, as surely as we have been lost.
Always remember to put your trust in compassion and self-love. From this comes a shift of identity, a release from the covering of clay, a return to our original goodness.
Nietzsche was the one who did the job for me. At a certain moment in his life, the idea came to him of what he called “the love of your fate.” Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, “This is what I need.” It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment—not discouragement—you will find the strength is there. Any disaster that you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow.
When looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures followed by wreckage were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. You’ll see that this is really true. Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.
— Joseph Campbell from A Joseph Campbell Companion
Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life. Knowing this gives me hope that human wholeness – mine, yours, ours – need not be a utopian dream, if we can use devastation as a seedbed for new life.
— Parker J. Palmer from A Hidden Wholeness