Quotes from a good book

I just finished reading A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough by Wayne Muller. One of my friends had read other books by this author and when I looked up his books at the library, they had this one. And what an intriguing title.

It is a collection of thoughts on this title, and the chapters are short, so the nuggets are easy to digest.

Here are some quotes from the book I resonated with - maybe they will be good for you, too.

After Hurricane Katrina, the author got together with people who had helped in many ways to meet the needs left in the wake of its devastation.

So we huddled together in a circle, something humans do when we know nothing else has helped, and listened together. We listened for some voice, or grace, or gift to be born in our company. ''Where two or more are gathered,'' said Jesus, the spirit quickens, softening one another's hardness of heart until tears, like the water that had brought such death and destruction, could slowly, tentatively, trickle into some soil where some living thing may one day again -- not now, not soon, but one day -- with the grace of a billion angels, possibly grow into something beautiful, necessary, true.

One man who had dedicated his life to helping the poor and needy wept and confessed: ''I'm so afraid that I haven't done anything with my life that has any value at all.''

He felt he had been a failure... This reveals one of the deepest confusions that lodges in our heart. We offer what we can, do waht we are able -- and, in the end, whatever we have given, healed, done, created, fixed, and given birth, somehow it never, ever feels like enough. Worse still, the feeling leeches into tissue and bone so deep that we ourselves begin to believe that the gift of our best and most loving presence adn attention, our own intrinsic worth as friends, parents, neighbors, our value as colleagues, citizens, helpers, or kind-hearted people, is doomed to feel somehow never good enough.

Regarding our fast paced living:

Every emotional state elicits in us a certain amount of confusion, denial, understanding, acceptance, and recognition. Some experiences, such as intense grief, can take years to fully digest. Love, friendship, trust, all these need time, and a great deal of it, before the heart can truly be able to know what it knows.

I felt that one to my core - so many times, I have tried to rush relationships, and rush my judgements of people's characters, and rush my approval of them on all levels, and then later come to regret that hurry. On the other hand, there are some people who I dearly wish I could know better. But they do not have the time to give to our friendship. So we operate in a kind of assumptive state - ''I assume you are a great friend, even though I don't know you well, and will likely never get to know you well''. Yet this is tiring, because the good, life-giving marrow of a friendship is in the knowing each other well, at least in some arenas. I long to have unhurried time with these friends, to go deep and be bound together in the mystery of friendship. But instead we have a temporary bond, that can be broken quickly if one of us is unable to commit even the scant amount of time we have had before to the relationship.

The whole small chapter entitled Dishonest Kindness is soooo good.

Linked with the thoughts from that chapter:

We see how some practice of rigorous honesty with ourselves and others is the foundation for genuine love and care. If we are attentive and awake, we know when we honestly have care and attention to give and when we are actually in need of care and attention ourselves. Many of us are inclined to give and give without ever asking for anything in return. We may think this is a sign of generosity, or even heroism. But it may also reveal some secret pride that says: "I don't need help from you or anyone. I only want to give.'' When we always give without receiving, we soon become dry, brittle, even secretly resentful. But if we learn instead to attend to our own physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs--and ask for and become willing to receive whatever care we truly need--we may discover that giving and receiving can be a joyful, liberating conversation of hearts.

The ''Bearing Witness'' chapter is barely longer than a page, and describes the ministry of a woman who records thoughts from women dying of breast cancer to share with their children when they are old enough for them - thoughts about how to make the best choices and how she made it through life's defining moments. She volunteers with this group called Mother's Living Stories. So beautiful. I so wish my mom had left me with more stories about herself, about her and my real father, thoughts for me as I was older, etc.

A snippet from their website: Primarily, the Project brings ill mothers together with trained volunteers in a process that is healing to both. Volunteer Listeners guide mothers in reviewing their lives and recording their stories. These living legacies foster communication within the family and help mothers and their children hold each other in life and after death.

I felt this one resonate with my questions to God on my lack related to perpetual singleness. He begins to talk about the prayer Jesus gives us of asking for our daily bread, and the tie back to manna, which could only be gathered for the one day (except in preparation for Sabbath).

Why would God feed them so little when they were clearly in such need?
(a question I've asked of God in my own life many times)

For the Hebrews in exile, afraid, hungry, on the run, fearful for their lives, this was not so much about food as about an opportunity to trust, to sink deep in the soul where fear can strangle and drive our choices and learn instead to allow, soften, open into some ridiculous possibility that even in the desert of dry, dusty wandering, lost without hope, there would be at least this one day, for them, enough.
This one got me (for us control freaks) -

How much of our time is driven by our conviction that we somehow have the authority, the power, the audacity to believe that if we anticipate, plan, work hard and long, and take care of everything and everyone, then we can actually control the outcome or guarantee the success of what we have decided we want.

Sobering about children's levels of stress, in this crazy world of ours:

(Reported to the author by his friend Anne Fullerton, when she was asked to help a first grade teacher whose students had a more than usually hard time focusing)

When I joined the class, I have no idea why I thought to ask these six-year-olds about ''stress.'' But when I did, one little girl immediately raised her hand. ''Stress,'' she said, ''is when you wake up late and you have to share the bathroom and your brother won't come out and you can't find your shoes and it's getting late and your mom yells at you and you can't find your homework and you don't have time for breakfast and you hurry into the car and your brother shoves you over and you get to school just as the bell rings. That's stress.''

When I asked them what made them less stressed and have more fun, these same children readily produced delightful images of sitting on someone's lap, talking, running around, climbing, singing, listening to stories, playing outside, dreaming, having nothing to do, not having to rush, or just being outside and taking a big breath.

Wayne concludes,

If, instead of forcing [kids] to adhere to our schedules, we took the opportunity for unhurried time with them every day, stopped and allowed their pace and their attention to capture us, we might find that such moments of delight provide more than enough unexpected surprises and unplanned gifts that we can carry easily and playfully through the day.

Boy, that got me thinking about how I interact with the kids in my 4 year old Sunday School class, and how glad I am we have 30 minutes of free play at the beginning. But maybe there are ways I can help them know that God isn't a big timetable in the sky...
In the final quote I'll share - Wayne himself shares a beautiful quote from Mark Nepo:

Just as someone starving can't eat a whole loaf of bread at once, but must break off pieces and eat slowly, so must the conscious heart live off small pieces of infinity in order to digest what will nourish.


Bo August 27, 2011 at 7:38 PM  

Tina! I love these quotes. I have one to share with you related to the one you posted about friendship.
"Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation."
-George Washington
You are a friend who has my confidence, but I wish had more of my daily life. In other words, I miss you! I've enjoyed reading your blog today. I'd love to meet Rogan someday.
Lots of love, Susan

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