Discover more from Stone Soup Stories
Five Quote Friday
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine continues, as do the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, the Congo, Yemen, and so on. COVID-19 still ravages countries throughout the world; there have been over 6 million deaths worldwide and here in the US, we're quickly approaching 1 million deaths. A NYT article pointed out how incomprehensible that number is and that perhaps we should begin to think in terms of years of life lost. Add to that ongoing systemic injustices like racism, the criminal justice system, patriarchy, etc.
And, on top of all of the large-scale, each of us has our own burdens in the day to day. My friends, family members, colleagues… they all have losses, struggles, challenges. And so do I.
So this week, I chose five quotes that help anchor me — as a reminder for myself as much as an offering to y'all. Here you go:
"May my heart be kind, my mind fierce, and my spirit brave"
- Kate Forsyth, The Witches of Eileanan
If I could only carry one quote with me for the rest of my life, this might be the one. I haven't read the book it came from — in fact, I uncovered the source in order to share the quote here. But, the sentence to me, reads like a prayer and a reminder all in one, calling out, drawing out, who and how I want to be in the world.
“If you’re really listening… If you’re awake to the poignant beauty of the world. Your heart breaks regularly. In fact your heart was made to break; Its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold ever more wonder."
- Andrew Harvey
I first encountered this quote about ten years ago while I was attending a Landmark Forum weekend, suggested by my acupuncturist. Although I (10 out of 10) would not recommend Landmark — they have incredibly manipulative sales techniques — I'm grateful for the exposure to this Andrew Harvey quote. Sitting with it now, it grates against the heartbreak that isn't always rooted in beauty, but is rather rooted in empathy or a view of another's suffering. Regardless, I do feel like my heart bursts open over and over.
"Hope is not a feeling, it's an action"
- The Bengsons, lyric from "Hope Comes"
It can be easy to sink into hopelessness like Atreyu's horse Artax (from the Neverending Story) in the Swamp of Sadness . Maybe the news overwhelms you or maybe you struggle to pay your bills, or perhaps you feel things deeply. There are a myriad of reasons we can get caught up. This lyric from the Bengsons' song "Hope Comes" reminds me that hope isn't passive, it's active. What are the actions we can take that are hopeful?
"When we cut flowers recklessly, carelessly, we are not paying attention to them. To pay attention is practicing giving and loving speech to that flower."
- Dainin Katagari, Returning to Silence: Zen Practice in Daily Life
I love this idea of paying attention as 'practicing giving and loving speech'. It dovetails well with hope as an action. Attention, as an action, is love in action. How can I bring greater attention to my daily encounters and experiences? My cats are masters at teaching me this — when I'm texting on my phone, they'll come up to me and butt my hand with their heads. I'll scratch their ears, but unless I put my phone aside, they keep butting my hand! If that isn't a clarion call to true attention over reckless attention, I don't know what is.
"I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about — quite apart from what I would like it to be about — or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions."
-Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak
I adore Parker Palmer's writing and speaking. The word vocation comes from the root vocare, which means to call out or draw forward. How is my life actually calling me out and drawing me forward into the world? What can I glean from looking at what I'm paying attention to or what my actions are actually creating?
May the next week bring you some solace and joy.