Sunday, November 27, 2022

Thought for the Day

We thought we were done with these things, but we were wrong.
~ Stephen Vincent Benet
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Quoted from Stephen Vincent Benet, "Litany for Dictatorships",  The Atlantic, 1935, pages 283-285; reprint, October 9, 2022, with Introduction by Faith Hill

Stephen Vincent Benet (1898-1943), American Poet, Novelist, Short Story Writer; Winner, Pulitzer Prize, 1929, for "John Brown's Body"

Thursday, November 24, 2022

On This Thanksgiving

I cannot pretend I am without fear.
But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude.
I have loved and been loved;
I have been given much and I have given something in return.
~ Dr. Oliver Sacks
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Quoted from Oliver Sacks, "My Own Life" (Opinion), The New York Times, February 19, 2015

When the piece above was published, Sacks, a neurologist of renown and author of many best-selling books, as well as a professor at New York University Medical School, was taking stock of his relatively long and fruitful life, which was soon to end because of incurable cancer. 
 
Remarkably, after nine years of trying to face down his cancer's spread, Sacks could still describe himself as "intensely alive" and even "lucky" and, perhaps more important, "grateful" for being able to "choose how to live out the months" that remained to him. "I have to live," he wrote, "in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can." That he did, publishing in the short time left to him five books and "nearly finish[ing]" others, all while completing his memoir, On the Move: A Life, published in the spring of 2015. Declaring his "detachment" from daily news and politics and issues of the day, he turned his focus "on myself, my work and my friends." His was, in every sense, lived life.
 
This Thanksgiving, having crossed that threshold that places me among the old, though not the old old, I find inspiration in re-reading Sacks's op-ed, to consider and affirm, as he did, what an "enormous privilege" it is to be of this world, especially to "have loved and been loved," to "have been given much" and "have given something in return."
 
Note: Sacks's essay and three others comprise his slim volume of reflections, Gratitude, published the year he died.
 
Earlier this week, the wonderful writer Margaret Renkl published her own essay on gratitude, "How to Give Thanks in a Screwed-Up World," which can be found online and in print in the November 21, 2022, edition of The New York Times. A copy of it will now take its place alongside my copy of Sacks's.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Thought for the Day

All that is left to one who grieves is convalescence, 
no change of heart or spiritual conversion, for the heart 
has changed. And the spirit has been converted 
to a thing that sees how much it costs to lose a friend it loved.
~ from "Gilgamesh"

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Quoted from Herbert Mason, "Gilgamesh: A Verse Narrative" (Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Co., 1970; New Afterword, 2003); Requoted in Chard deNiord, "Singing Back to the World: A Conversation with U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limon", World Literature Today, November/December 2022, page 48.
 
Gilgamesh is an ancient Babyonian epic.  

Herbert Mason, Writer and Translator; Scholar of Arabic and Islamic Studies; Emeritus University Professor and William Goodwin Aurelio Professor of History and Religion, Boston University

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Thought for the Day

Insofar as poetry has a social function it is
to awaken sleepers by other means than shock.
~ Denise Levertov
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Quoted from Denise Levertov, Letter for The New American Poetry: 1945-1960, Academy of American Poets Archive (Posted May 4, 2016)

Denise Levertov (1923-1997), Poet

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Thought for the Day

[. . .] the most basic lesson that all art teaches us
is to stop, look, and listen to life on this planet,[. . .]
In a world that for the most part steers clear of the whole
idea of holiness, art is one of the few places left
where we can speak to each other of holy things. [. . .]
~ Frederick Buechner
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Quoted from Frederick Buechner, "Art", January 25, 2018

Frederick Buechner (1926-2022), American Writer and Theologian

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Thought for the Day

We do not think ourselves into a new way of living;
we live ourselves into a new way of thinking.
~ Fr. Richard Rohr
"Eighth Core Principle"
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Quoted from Fr. Richard Rohr, "Living Ourselves into a New Way of Thinking" in Daily Meditation, October 15, 2022
 


Sunday, October 23, 2022

Thought for the Day

 I'm convinced that Jesus['s] good news is
 that God's choice is always for the excluded one.
~ Fr. Richard Rohr
_____________________
 
Quoted from Richard Rohr, "A Gospel of Humility", Daily Meditations, Center for Action and Contemplation, September 26, 2022

Richard Rohr, Franciscan Priest, Ecumenical Teacher, Author, Founder of Center for Action and Contemplation


Sunday, October 16, 2022

Thought for the Day

What we bring, finally, into the new day, every day, //
Is ourselves. And that's all we need /
To start.  That's everything we require to keep going. /

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Quoted from Alberto Rios, "A House Called Tomorrow" in Not Go Away Is My Name (Copper Canyon Press, 2020)

Alberto Rios, Award-Winning American Poet, Memoirist, Short Story Writer; First State Poet Laureate of Arizona


Sunday, October 9, 2022

Thought for the Day

Without radical and rule-breaking forgiveness—received
and given—there will be no reconstruction of anything.
. . . Without forgiveness, there will be no future. . . . 
~ Fr. Richard Rohr
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Quoted from Richard Rohr, "The Power of Forgiveness" (Weekly Summary of Daily Meditations), September 16, 2022 (Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Wisdom Pattern: Order, Disorder, Reorder (Cincinnati, 2001, 2020)

Richard Rohr, Franciscan Priest; Founder, Center for Action and Contemplation

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Thought for the Day

History is an act of the imagination.
~ Eric Foner
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Quoted from Nawal Arjini's Interview with Eric Foner for The New York Review of Books Newsletter, September 17, 2022

Eric Foner, Ph.D, American Historian, DeWitt Clinton Professor Emeritus of History, Columbia University; Award-Winning Writer and Author