“These people who can see right through you never quite do you justice, because they never give you credit for the effort you're making to be better than you actually are, which is difficult and well meant and deserving of some little notice.”
"(People) make you doubt yourself, which, depending on cases, can be a severe distraction and a waste of time. This is a thing I wish I had understood much earlier than I did. Just to reflect on it makes me a little irritated. Irritation is a form of anger, I recognize that.
......."One great benefit of a religious vocation is that it helps you concentrate. It gives you a good basic sense of what is being asked of you and also what you might as well ignore. If I have any wisdom to offer, this is a fair part of it."
“But I believe also the rewards of obedience are great, because at the root of real honor is always a sense of the sacredness of the person who is the object...
"When you love someone to the degree you love her, you see her as God sees her, and that is an instruction in the nature of God and humankind and of Being itself.”
"I don't know what to say except that the worst misfortune isn't only misfortune---and even as I write those words, I have that infant Rebecca in my mind, the way she looked while I held her, which I seem to remember, because every single time I have christened a baby I have thought of her again. The feeling of a baby's brow against the palm of your hand---how I have loved this life... I laid my hand on her just to bless her, and I could feel her pulse, her warmth, the damp of her hair. The Lord said, 'Their angels in Heaven always see the face of my Father in Heaven' (Matthew 18:11).... Many people have found comfort in that verse."
......."I don't think it was resentment I felt then. It was some sort of loyalty to my own life, as if I wanted to say, I have a wife, too, I have a child, too. It was as if the price of having them was losing them, and I couldn't bear the implication that even that price could be too high."
“They say an infant can't see when it is as young as your sister was, but she opened her eyes, and she looked at me. She was such a little bit of a thing. But while I was holding her, she opened her eyes. I know she didn't really study my face. Memory can make a thing seem to have been much more than it was. But I know she did look right into my eyes. That is something. And I'm glad I knew it at the time, because now, in my present situation, now that I am about to leave this world, I realize there is nothing more astonishing than a human face...
"You feel your obligation to a child when you have seen it and held it. Any human face is a claim on you, because you can't help but understand the singularity of it, the courage and loneliness of it. But this is truest of the face of an infant. I consider that to be one kind of vision, as mystical as any.”
"As you read this, I hope you will understand that when I speak of the long night that preceded these days of my happiness, I do not remember grief and loneliness so much as I do peace and comfort---grief, but never without comfort; loneliness, but never without peace. Almost never."
"I pulled down old John Donne, who has in fact meant a lot to me all these years. 'One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally, / And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.' There are some very fine lines in Donne. I hope you will read him, if you have not read him yet."
“I'd never have believed I'd see a wife of mine doting on a child of mine. It still amazes me every time I think of it. I'm writing this in part to tell you that if you ever wonder what you've done in your life, and everyone does wonder sooner or later, you have been God's grace to me, a miracle, something more than a miracle. You may not remember me very well at all, and it may seem to you to be no great thing to have been the good child of an old man in a shabby little town you will no doubt leave behind. If only I had the words to tell you.”
“If we can (be) divinely fed with a morsel and divinely blessed with a touch, then the terrible pleasure we find in a particular face can certainly instruct us in the nature of the very grandest love.”
“It has seemed to me sometimes as though the Lord breathes on this poor gray ember of Creation and it turns to radiance - for a moment or a year or the span of a life. And then it sinks back into itself again, and to look at it no one would know it had anything to do with fire, or light ....
Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don't have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see. Only, who could have the courage to see it? ....
Theologians talk about a prevenient grace that precedes grace itself and allows us to accept it. I think there must also be a prevenient courage that allows us to be brave - that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm.”
"Good ole Isaac Watts. I've thought about that verse often. I have always wondered what relationship this present reality bears to an ultimate reality.
"No doubt that is true. Our dream of life will end as dreams end, abruptly and completely, when the sun rises, when the light comes. And we will think, All that fear and grief were about nothing. But that cannot be true. I can't believe we will forget our sorrows altogether. That would mean forgetting that we had lived, humanly speaking. Sorrow seems to me to be a great substance of human life. For example, at this very moment I feel a kind of loving grief for you as you read this...."
“I am grateful for all those dark years, even though in retrospect they seem like a long, bitter prayer that was answered finally.”