from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
What Oliver’s work does for my minister friend — as it can do for us all — is more than point to a message or theme that was meant to inspire. Poetry engages us in a moment of meeting with a scene, a world, a person; poetry invites us to partake, to be fully present, to move beyond medium and message to flesh and blood, word and communion.When it is right, poetry evokes a sense of the sacramental. When read aright, poetry can help us recover a sacramental sense of presence in the world around us.
The best writer, I’m starting to think, sees writing as a predominately spiritual practice, not just a predominately work-producing one. She is the one who experiences through her work the growing process that makes her into a full, strong, richly fruitful person, who bears her fruit in her season. Her leaf also shall not wither—and, incidentally, whatever she does will prosper.
His contemporaries most frequently commented on Thomas’s humility, a virtue little prized in our times, since we seem unable to distinguish the humble person’s self-evaluation from what we call low self-esteem. In consequence, self-assertion takes on the appearance of a virtue, merely by way of contrast with that mistaken conception of humility. Humility, in the sense that his contemporaries observed its presence in Thomas, had more to do with that peculiarly difficult form of vulnerability, which consists in being entirely open to the discovery of the truth, especially to the truth about oneself. One might say, likewise, that what humility is to the moral life, lucidity is to the intellectual—an openness to contestation, the refusal to hide behind the opacity of the obscure, a vulnerability to refutation to which one is open simply as a result of being clear enough to be seen, if wrong, to be wrong. We might well say, then, that Thomas was fearlessly clear, unafraid to be shown to be wrong, and correspondingly angered by those among his colleagues, especially in the University of Paris, who in his view refused to play the game on a field leveled by lucidity and openness equal in degree of honesty to the requirements of the intellectual life. And yet, even in Thomas’s anger there is nothing personal. His is the anger of a true teacher observing students to have been betrayed by colleagues. It has no more to do with self-assertion than his humility has to do with lack of self-worth.
To speak of “God” properly—in a way, that is, consonant with the teachings of orthodox Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Vedantic and Bhaktic Hinduism, Bahá’í, much of antique paganism, and so forth—is to speak of the one infinite ground of all that is: eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, uncreated, uncaused, perfectly transcendent of all things and for that very reason absolutely immanent to all things.
God so understood is neither some particular thing posed over against the created universe, in addition to it, nor is he the universe itself. He is not a being, at least not in the way that a tree, a clock, or a god is; he is not one more object in the inventory of things that are. He is the infinite wellspring of all that is, in whom all things live and move and have their being. He may be said to be “beyond being,” if by “being” one means the totality of finite things, but also may be called “being itself,” in that he is the inexhaustible source of all reality, the absolute upon which the contingent is always utterly dependent, the unity underlying all things.
— David Bentley Hart | God, Gods, and Fairies | First Things
One has to put the book down and gasp. The pleasure becomes
physical—like sun and wine and grapes and perfect serenity and
intense vitality combined.
— Virginia Woolf on reading Marcel Proust
Naming things is the crowning glory of man.
— Robert Farrar Capon
Can poets (can men in television)
Be saved? It is not easy
To believe in unknowable justice
Or pray in the name of a love
Whose name one’s forgotten: libera
Me, libera C (dear C)
And all poor s-o-b’s who never
Do anything properly, spare
Us in the youngest day when all are
Shaken awake, facts are facts,
(And I shall know exactly what happened
Today between noon and three)
That we, too, may come to the picnic
With nothing to hide, join the dance
As it moves in perichoresis,
Turns about the abiding tree.
— W. H. Auden, from “Compline,” in Horae Canonicae