8 Life-Changing Quotes on the Spiritual Life
How's that title for an attempt at click-bait?
I’m slowly (like, v e r y s l o w l y) working on a personal essay/project/resource about how my views on the spiritual life have shifted since becoming a parent. Today, I’ve been culling the quotes that have shaped my thinking on this topic.
While motherhood has fundamentally formed my perspective on spiritual practices and the work of Christian discipleship, what I’m learning is universal, and consequently, these quotes are too. So wherever you find yourself today, I hope these good words from some of my favorite writers will meet you and bless you.
Peace to you on this Wednesday.
From Catherine McNeil
“If a deep, rich spiritual life requires personal time and space, most people throughout history—hard workers living in crowded homes, striving to care for their families and just barely getting by—are simply out of luck… The spiritual life is not only for those with the freedom to sit quietly and meditate, but also for those of us who are called away to continue giving deeply of ourselves.”
From John Newton
“Grace reigns. Be that my motto.
As my case will be an exemplification of its reigning power, if I am found at last among the ‘more than conquerors’, as I trust I shall be.
I long for a retired walk among the woods... hedgerows where I might hear no noise but the baaing of lambs, and the singing of blackbirds. But here I must be. I must hear the rumbling of wheels, and have to force my way through a crowd from morning to night. No matter, if it be way to heaven, the end will make amends for all.”
From Ashley Hales
“Your limits aren’t always a sign of your failures. They are signposts of your humanity. And if you let them, invitations to knowing God.”
From Robert Farrar Capon
“The world needs all the lovers – amateurs – it can get. It is a gorgeous old place, full of clownish graces and beautiful drolleries, and it has enough textures, tastes, and smells to keep us intrigued for more time than we have. Unfortunately, however, our response to its loveliness is not always delight: It is, far more often than it should be, boredom. And that is not only odd, it is tragic; for boredom is not neutral – it is the fertilizing principle of unloveliness.
In such a situation, the amateur – the lover, the man who thinks heedlessness is a sin and boredom a heresy – is just the man you need.
…There, then, is the role of the amateur: to look the world back to grace.”
From Marilynne Robinson
“It is easy to believe in such moments that water was made primarily for blessing, and only secondarily for growing vegetables or doing the wash. I wish I had paid more attention to it. My list of regrets may seem unusual, but who can know that they are, really. This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it.”
From Alexander Schmemann
“All that exists is God’s gift to man, and it all exists to make God known to man, to make man’s life communion with God… God blesses everything He creates, and in biblical language, this means that He makes all creation the sign and means of His presence and wisdom, love and revelation. “O taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Man is a hungry being. But he is hungry for God. Behind all the hunger of our life is God. All desire is finally a desire for him.”
From James K.A. Smith
“If the heart is like a compass, an erotic homing device, then we need to (regularly) calibrate our hearts, tuning them to be directed to the Creator, our magnetic north. It is crucial for us to recognize that our ultimate loves, longings, desires and cravings are learned. And because love is a habit, our hearts are calibrated through imitating exemplars and being immersed in practices that, over time, index our hears to a certain end.
We learn to love, then, not primarily by acquiring information about what we should love but rather through practices that form the habits of how we love. These sorts of practices are “pedagogies” of desire, not because they are like lectures that inform us, but because they are rituals that form and direct our affections.”
From Padraig O’Tuama
“Neither I nor the poets I love found the keys to the kingdom of prayer and we cannot force God to stumble over us where we sit. But I know that it’s a good idea to sit anyway. So every morning I sit, I kneel, waiting, making friends with the habit of listening, hoping that I’m being listened to. There, I greet God in my own disorder. I say hello to my chaos, my unmade decisions, my unmade bed, my desire and my trouble. I say hello to distraction and privilege, I greet the day and
I greet my beloved and bewildering Jesus.
I recognize and greet my burdens, my luck, my controlled and uncontrollable story. I greet my untold stories, my unfolding story, my unloved body, my own love, my own body. I greet the things I think will happen and I say hello to everything I do not know about the day. I greet my own small world and I hope that I can meet the bigger world that day. I greet my story and hope that I can forget my story during the day, and hope that I can hear some stories, and greet some surprising stories during the long day ahead. I greet God, and I greet the God who is more God than the God I greet.
Hello to you all, I say, as the sun rises above the chimneys of North Belfast.