This Christmas I reflect with Gratitude on:

This Christmas I reflect with gratitude on:

(In no particular order…)

My Grandma

My Grandma has a comforting presence to me, her energy is a Mother’s love. She’s never ceased being amazed by the blessings and wonders each day brings – whether it’s snapping green beans on the back porch for dinner, catching fireflies in summer, gathering in her den enjoying conversation, feeding the ducks at the pond, the red roses in her garden, a tea party, or a “big adventure” to an amusement park or historical spot. In her presence, my heart has always felt safe and engaged in the wonder of the present moment. I and the world – are wonderful just as we are.

My Grandma has a deep love of Christ. I’ve always noticed the rosaries, bibles, crosses, and images of Jesus and Mary when I visit her. She shared her faith in a gentle and natural way with me, bringing me to church with her when I was a little girl, and speaking openly about how God is her strength and comfort and has carried her through life.

However it was never any words or images of Christ or the cross alone that ever meant all that much to me as a child or as I grew. It was always her, her loving presence and how it made me feel, that stood out as a Heaven on Earth. When I saw a cross, an image of Mary, or Jesus – it was always her I thought of. Therefore, despite growing up in the passionately atheist home of my parents (think Christopher Hitchens) and considering myself an atheist since birth, the cross, Jesus, Mary – Christianity has always radiated to me with the beautiful sacredness of love.

Taken at Grandma’s

Dostoevsky

I was 19 or 20 when I first read Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov. The novel highlighted the clear split between my thinking mind and my feeling heart. My heart connected deeply with the character Alyosha, an aspiring monk, and his mentor, an elder monk named Zosima. I was inspired by the beauty of their wise words, steadfast kindness, and the compassionate stance they tried to take towards every person they met. They quickly became my heart’s favorite fictional characters of all time.

However my mind sided with a different character – Alyosha’s logic focused and atheist brother, Ivan. My mind stood in awe and approval of Ivan’s arguments against the goodness of God, his courageous dedication to brutal truths and logic, and his sharp intelligence. My mind viewed Ivan as having the wisdom and the strength to find the harsh path of reality/the truth and to take it. My mind understood Ivan’s philosophy, words, and actions weren’t very beautiful, but the truth is the truth was the philosophy Ivan and my mind endorsed.

However it seems Alyosha’s and Zosima’s philosophy of love struck something deeper inside of me. A decade later when my inner world went pitch black, the memory of the beauty of their faithful love and compassion was one of the few lights I could find in me. The memory was a blinking arrow directing me to the goodness, the beauty, and the power of Christ like love. That light inspired me to pick up Brothers Karamazov again and then pick up the Bible. It was one the the earliest steps I took on this journey back to self.

Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.

Father Zosima (Brothers Karamazov)

“What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.” 

Father Zosima (Brothers Karamazov)

My Children

I decided in high school, if not middle school, that I wanted to be a stay at home mom. Being a mother, and being with my children full time their first years, has always felt like a calling to me. So when I had my first child, my son, and I was able to stay at home with him full time I was delighted. It all felt like a dream come true!

And it was a dream, but it was also real life. My first year of motherhood was a colossal adjustment. My son needed a lot of attention, and he knew how to make that need known. The family encouragement and support I had assumed I’d received never showed up. It was just me and my husband and a very fussy baby. That lack of support cut me deeply, and was the start of the painful opening of my eyes to my own childhood. I took great care of my son, but horrible care of myself. I feel shame admitting this, but the truth is resentment towards him started to grow in me. And then a dread I felt in my very soul hit me – as I realized though he could not actually hurt me I could, and likely would, hurt him (I do not mean physically, just emotionally or damaging his understanding of love ,himself, or trust, etc.) And I did not want that to happen! My heart saw the innocence of his little soul and it was a rare time where my mind and heart agreed – there was no doubt that this little baby was more pure and innocent than me.

Thankfully my son, and daughter who was born 2 years later, are the best teachers of love I have ever met. Their authenticity, wonder, innocence, and the endless grace they show me reminded my heart and mind of something I had unknowing lost long ago – the belief in unconditional love. Suddenly unconditional love which was the most good, and beautiful thing, was also a TRUTH. If it was possible, then that meant it was a goal I could strive for. And I wanted to give that so badly to my children. I started learning about and practicing loving unconditionally – and found that is is NOT easy work. Being their mother and growing in this role has been the most terrifying, challenging, and meaningful work I have ever done. It was the very start of this journey back to self.

“I love everything best”

My Son

Fred Rogers

Until I became a parent, I knew almost nothing about Fred Rogers, his philosophy, and his TV show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I discovered Fred Rogers though my son’s favorite PBS show Daniel Tiger. I loved how in Daniel Tiger emotions and relationships were the focus. I loved the shows continual emphasis on all emotions being natural and okay – emotions are not hurtful or bad it is how we express them that can be troublesome. The show focused on teaching kids how to appropriately express their emotions.

This mindset about emotions made perfect sense to me, though I knew that wasn’t the mindset I lived by. My instinct was to label much of the inner emotional world as “silly” or “wrong”. My instinct was invalidating emotions. And because of that I struggled to figure out what my own emotions were deep down and had never learned the skill of appropriately expressing them. So I sat right next to my son learning about emotions through Daniel Tiger.

At some point I learned that Daniel Tiger was based off of Fred Rogers’ philosophy and his show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. So I started watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood too. I found his gentle presence and childlike curiosity and joy for life very moving. He seemed to radiate love and safety to me. He would often look at the camera and say some version of “I like you just the way you are”. This stirred up a great deal of internal resistance in my mind. I would feel frustrated, and I observed my mind instinctually retorting “But then how will they/or I improve?”. Sometimes my frustration would boil over and I would even tell my husband “I don’t really agree with that sort of….unconditional praise” and fumble around as to why that was saying something like “this world and the people in it need serious improvement, sorry but we most definitely are NOT okay as we are, and people need to hear and accept that truth and get to work being better.”

But alongside my inner resistance, I couldn’t help but notice part of me was actually very receptive to his message and felt touched by it. A soft and vulnerable part of me, I wasn’t used to seeing, was being brought to the surface by the very words that frustrated the thinking side of me. Sometimes even tears would well up in my eyes at his words of unconditional love and acceptance. I believed him! I believed that he, this stranger, would love me exactly as I was right then, despite everything I’ve done or will do. He would see me, he would listen to me, and he would LOVE me. That belief in the possibility of unconditional love was a powerful and stabilizing force to me. I aspired to be more like him myself, I wanted others (especially my children) to believe in and feel that beautiful love from me. Which sounds a lot life his message that I was likable just the way I was – inspired me to……”improve”. (I’m teasing my mind here, but I have come to learn the somewhat non instinctual truth that – Love not criticism leads to improvement.)

Fred Rogers singing “It’s You I Like” and saying this after “And that’s true. And you’ll find that the people who love you best, are the one’s you learn the most from. And the more they teach you and the more you learn the better feeling you’ll have about yourself and the world we live in”
Fred Rogers singing “There Are Many Ways To Say I Love You”…Followed by these words “As you grow I trust that you are finding many more ways to show and tell people that you love them. Those are the most important things that you’ll ever ever learn to do. Because loving people and animals and the world we all live in is the most important part of being alive.”

My Husband

This year has been a tough one for our marriage – lots of life changes and inner realizations and very little quality alone time together. At points it has felt like our marriage was a chapter in our lives, and it was quickly coming to a close. So it might be surprising for my husband to see himself on this list, but on reflection he shouldn’t be surprised.

In the second half of this year my inner struggles came more clearly to the surface than they ever have in my life. Waves of every emotion I’ve ever felt came out and it changed on a weekly basis. It was messy. Yet, somehow, he never judged me. He’s tried to be there for me even when I pulled away from him and expressed doubt about our marriage surviving this inner change in me. His focused seemed always on getting me back on solid footing. He reassured me he loved me and wanted to see me happy and healthy no matter what that meant for us. His focus wasn’t on what he had to gain or lose – it was my wellbeing. That is unconditional love, and it’s been a beautiful and inspiring thing to see.

He may not be artful in day to day expressions of love, but when times were tough (which is when love is truly tested) he’s displayed his unconditional love clearly. While others, who I thought loved me and would always be there to catch me, fled or at best stood by with criticism, doubts, frustration, invalidation, and wordy advice he reached out with the strongest arms of love he has to try to catch me. And his effort, simply seeing his effort, did steady me in my fall and guided me to softer spot to land. Unconditional love came from an expected source unexpectedly – I clearly have some reflecting to do.

WordPress Friends

At the beginning of my journey back to self I assumed the major changes happening in me were a uniquely “me” experience. It wasn’t until many months into my journey, maybe closer to a year, that I began to suspect I wasn’t alone in this journey. That what I was experiencing was a human experience – like the experience of falling in love, or the experience of missing someone, or the experience of tasting good food.

That’s when I started this blog. I wanted to document my evolving journey ( a human journey) in my sometimes beautiful, sometimes good, but always true inner world. And in this blog I have done that, but this blog has gifted me so much more than I ever expected. It connected me to you! So many people have reached out to share their own experiences and perspectives and what they’ve learned on their journeys in healing, motherhood, faith, creativity, love, and life. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to everyone who has taken time out of their lives to show kindness to me – an internet stranger. My WordPress friends have given me the beautiful gift of feeling seen, encouraged, relatable, understood, deserving of compassion and loved. This blog created to document my journey back to self has become an essential element in my journey back to self.

I will be forever thankful to each of these people who reminded my heart and mind of the truth and power that is Love. That is God.

Poem – Kahlil Gibran

"Your children are not your children.
     They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
     They come through you but not from you,
     And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

     You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
     For they have their own thoughts.
     You may house their bodies but not their souls,
     For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
     You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
     For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
     You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
     The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
     Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
     For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."

- Kahlil Gibran 

Where I Am This Week (5-20-21)

(This post was written early May)

* I struggle a bit in this post to take how my feeling side of the mind envisions things and write it in simple terms. Emotionally everything I share in this post is true. I am only able to express this truth, right now, in a more poetic form. I hope it still has clarity.*

A Heartbreaking and Heartmending Realization

“The nuns taught us there are two ways through life, the way of Nature and the way of Grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow. Grace doesn’t try to please itself, accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have it’s own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things. They taught us that no one who loves the way of Grace ever comes to a bad end. I will be true to you. Whatever comes.”

When I first saw The Tree Of Life I found the movie incredibly beautiful. It’s message struck close to my heart, I knew that, but I couldn’t understand it. Though beautiful and good, I couldn’t see how the movie’s message connected to real life.

Near the start of this journey, my mind pulled me back to things I found beautiful, and I searched for clips from this beautiful movie. When I found this clip, I understood it more clearly than I had before. A link to this clip was one of the first things I shared here on my blog. And last week this clip found it’s way back to me. I guess there was another message in it I was finally ready to hear. And it shattered me. It opened my eyes, to my deep failure.

A few days after this realization I wrote this poem. I feel it captures the experience.

Before mortality,
full of faith
in my love 
and strength.
I made a promise.
I remember that now
and my heart breaks.
I have failed you
forgotten you
at the first cutting word
or cold touch 

This shattering humbles me
and somehow
weeping and ashamed
I find a final victory
I find your arms again 

and hear your promise 
"I will be true to you. Whatever comes."

It’s hazy to me, but I do have a sense that there is a truth in this poem. I believe those final words in the Tree of Life scene hit me as a promise I made to God. A promise that I would remember Him and His love and follow His way of Grace and love in this life. A promise I quickly failed, when the “whatever comes” arrived.

After the “Whatever Comes” Arrived

I became distracted by how other’s treated me, judged me, loved me, and I lost touch with God’s love of me. I began trying to assert my will to get other’s to give me the love I believed I deserved. I didn’t consider where they were in life. I blamed them for corrupting me, for making it so I “couldn’t love”.

I walked in the world completely of my own will, seeking to be seen and loved, and hurt and outraged when I felt I didn’t receive it. In that hurt and outrage I would lash out, judge others harshly, give the cold shoulder, or criticize. I didn’t spend much time actively showing love to others, I was too busy trying to figure out whether others were being loving to me or not. And then, when I determined they weren’t being loving (which was the final verdict on pretty much everyone since I struggled to receive love), I spent the rest of my time trying to figure out what to do or say to get them to love me better.

Remembering Him

I believe this realization came crashing down because I was ready for it. And I believe I was ready for it because I have been starting to remember and have faith in God. In His love. And in knowing Him, my mind and heart finally felt safe enough to let me shatter. Deep down, though I didn’t consciously know it, I finally felt safe enough to fall into that complete guilt and shame. He would not leave me. He was the only love I ever needed.

He Knows I’m Imperfect

I imagine He knew all along, that though my heart was fully in my words when I promised “I will be true to you. Whatever comes”, that imperfect me would fail. Those words when spoken by me, are merely me expressing my hopes and dreams. To believe I could ever live up to them is delusion.

I imagine the words themselves actually first came from God, and when spoken by Him, they are said with certainty, a declaration of fact ” I will be true to you. Whatever comes”. This dynamic brings to mind the bible verse “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). It was His love and His promise I first heard, and my dream is to love like Him. But of course I never will be able too.

Yet I will never give up striving to love like Him. And I feel a huge part of that striving is remembering and experiencing God’s unconditional love for me even through all my continuous falls from showing others grace and love. If I pretend I’m mostly perfect, then it blocks that learning of unconditional love. I feel I cannot show others grace and love if I myself have not experienced that grace and love being shown to my failing self by God.

Mended – Healing And Learning

So though I felt shattered by the realization of my failure, I felt mended by it too. Humbled. More ready to receive and learn from Him instead of thinking I already had things taken care of. More ready to hand Him the reigns of my life. And mended in trusting the security of His love enough to stand before it and admit deep failure, shame, and weakness. And in admitting, allowing myself to experience His true love and grace. And in experiencing His love and grace, healing and learning.

Fred Rogers – “Sometimes People Are Good”

Lyrics:

“Sometimes people are good
And they do just what they should.
But the very same people who are good sometimes
Are the very same people who are bad sometimes.
It’s funny, but it’s true.
It’s the same, isn’t it for me and…

Sometimes people get wet.
And their parents get upset.
But the very same people who get wet sometimes
Are the very same people who are dry sometimes.
It’s funny, but it’s true.
It’s the same, isn’t it for me and…

Sometimes people make noise
And they break another’s toys.
But the very same people who are noisy sometimes
Are the very same people who are quiet sometimes.
It’s funny, but it’s true.
It’s the same, isn’t it for me and…

Sometimes people are good
And they do just what they should.
But the very same people who are good sometimes
Are the very same people who are bad sometimes.
It’s funny, but it’s true.
It’s the same, isn’t it for me…
Isn’t it the same for you?”

The loving, gentle, true, and beautiful, perspective Fred Rogers shares in this song couldn’t be simpler, but it’s been so easily missed or forgotten by me . I find it is a perspective that encourages kindness, mercy and loyal love towards others and myself.

Quote – Dostoevsky (“The Brothers Karamazov”)

“Paradise” he said, “is hidden in each one of us, it is concealed within me, too, right now, and if I wish, it will come for me in reality, tomorrow even, and for the rest of my life. ”

I looked at him: he was speaking with tenderness and looking at me mysteriously, as if questioning me.

“And”, he went on, “as for each man being guilty before all and for all, besides his own sins, your reasoning about this is quite correct, and it is surprising that you could suddenly embrace it so fully. And indeed it is true that when people understand this thought, the Kingdom of Heaven will come to them, no longer in a dream but in reality.”

“But when will this come true?” I exclaimed to him ruefully. “And will it ever come true? Is it not just a dream?”

“Ah” he said, “now you do not believe it, you preach it and do not believe it yourself. Know, then, that this dream, as you call it, will undoubtedly come true, believe it, though not now, for every action had its law. This is a matter of the soul, a psychological matter. In order to make the world over anew, people themselves must turn onto a different path psychically. Until one has indeed become the brother of all, there will be no brotherhood. No science or self-interest will ever enable people to share their property and their rights among themselves without offense. Each will always think his share too small, and they will keep murmuring, they will envy and destroy one another. You ask when it will come true. It will come true, but first the period of human isolation must conclude.”

“What isolation?” I asked him.

“That which is now reigning everywhere, especially in our age, but it is not all concluded yet, its term has not come. For everyone now strives most of all to separate his person, wishing to experience the fullness of life within himself, and yet what comes of all his efforts is not the fullness of life but full suicide, for instead of the fullness of self-definition, they fall into complete isolation. For all men in our age are separated into units, each seeks seclusion in his own hole, each withdraws from the others, hides himself, and hides what he has, and ends by pushing himself away from people and pushing people way from himself. He accumulates wealth in solitude, thinking : how strong, how secure I am now; and does not see, madman that he is, that the more he accumulates, the more he sinks into suicidal impotence. For he is accustomed to relying only on himself, he has separated his unit from the whole, he has accustomed his soul to not believing in people’s help, in people or in mankind, and now only trembles lest his money and his acquired privileges perish. Everywhere now the human mind has begun laughably not to understand that a man’s true security lies not in his own solitary effort, but in the general wholeness of humanity. But there must needs come a term to this horrible isolation, and everyone will all at once realize how unnaturally they have separated themselves one from another. Such will be the spirit of the time, and they will be astonished that they sat in darkness for so long, and did not see the light. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens…But until then we must keep hold of the banner, and every once in a while, if only individually, a man must suddenly set an example, and draw the soul from its isolation for an act of brotherly communion, though it be with the rank of holy fool. So that the great thought does not die…”

Quotes On Being Human

“Man is a mystery: if you spend your entire life trying to puzzle it out, then do not say that you have wasted your time. I occupy myself with this mystery, because I want to be a man.”

-Dostoevsky

“Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime’s work, but it’s worth the effort”

-Fred Rogers


“Why do you run scattershot

begging for answers

when you are the essence

of all meaning?”

Rumi

“A human being is a spatially and temporally limited piece of the whole, what we call the “Universe”. He experiences himself and his feelings as separate from the rest, an optical illusion of his consciousness. The quest for liberation from this bondage is the only object of true religion. Not nurturing the illusion but only overcoming it gives us the attainable measure of inner peace.”

Einstein

“What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

“The Little Prince”, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond”

Rumi

“We are never confronted with a task that denies us our free will.”

Rumi

“In every one of us this morning, there’s a war going on. It’s a civil war. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care where you live, there is a civil war going on in your life. And every time you set out to be good, there’s something pulling on you, telling you to be evil. It’s going on in your life. Every time you set out to love, something keeps pulling on you, trying to get you to hate. Every time you set out to be kind and say nice things about people, something is pulling on you to be jealous and envious and to spread evil gossip about them. There’s a civil war going on. There is a schizophrenia, as the psychologists or the psychiatrists would call it, going on within all of us. And there are times that all of us know somehow that there is a Mr. Hyde and a Dr. Jekyll in us. And we end up having to cry out with Ovid, the Latin poet, “I see and approve the better things of life, but the evil things I do.” We end up having to agree with Plato that the human personality is like a charioteer with two headstrong horses, each wanting to go in different directions. Or sometimes we even have to end up crying out with Saint Augustine as he said in his Confessions, “Lord, make me pure, but not yet.” We end up crying out with the Apostle Paul, “The good that I would I do not: And the evil that I would not, that I do.” Or we end up having to say with Goethe that “there’s enough stuff in me to make both a gentleman and a rogue.” There’s a tension at the heart of human nature. And whenever we set out to dream our dreams and to build our temples, we must be honest enough to recognize it.”

“Unfulfilled Dreams” Sermon, Martin Luther King Jr.

” The human shape is a ghost

made of distraction and pain.

Sometimes pure light, sometimes cruel,

trying wildly to open,

this image tightly held within itself”

Rumi

“Everyone longs to be loved. And the greatest thing we can do is to let people know they are loved and capable of loving.”

Fred Rogers

“We are all so much alike… and yet we’re all so different! I find myself rejoicing at the endless variety of human beings, and that’s partly, I know, because your differences from one another tell me that it’s all right for me to be different in many ways, too.”

Fred Rogers

Share in the comments any quotes about being human that speak to you. I’d love to read them.

“It’s You I Like”

Lyrics:
“It’s you I like,
It’s not the things you wear,
It’s not the way you do your hair
But it’s you I like
The way you are right now,
The way down deep inside you
Not the things that hide you,
Not your toys
They’re just beside you.
Cause it’s you I like
Every part of you.
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
Hope you will remember
Even when you’re feeling blue
That it’s you I like,
It’s you yourself
It’s you.
It’s you I like.”

I discovered this cover of Fred Rogers’ It’s You I Like while making a playlist for a loved one. I was searching for a song which expressed how I feel towards them. And this song captured that to me in a deep way. In a vulnerable way. It expresses something my heart knows and feels, but I struggle to express and live in life. Expressing this feeling to someone else is important to me, and true to me, but very difficult for me (even if simply doing it through someone else’s song like this). It is an emotion that is hard for me to grasp and express at all. And I suspect, in real life situations, hard for me to grasp and accept from another when expressed towards me. But that is the magic of this song, it reaches me. It brings tears to my eyes. I accept it, I feel it for a moment. And I remember that moment.

When I reflect on my experience of this song it is complex. Is the song being sung to me? Or am I the one singing the song? Is the song a parent singing to their child? Or a child singing to their parent? I hear it as first being sung to me, but somehow it has a magic that frees me to be more fully myself for a moment, and what I find is I am somehow the voice who was singing the song in the first place. Singing that song to myself, everyone else, and everything. Somehow I have lost and forgotten part of who I am.

My heart finds so much comfort and peace in the unconditional love expressed in this song. And I believe through hearing it, my heart builds up a sense of trust and safety. Which allows my heart to feel increasingly empowered and free to sing it.

Fred Rogers – “The Truth Will Make Me Free”

These are the words from the video above:

“The truth is inside of us, and it’s wonderful when we have the courage to tell it.

Singing: What if I were very, very sad
And all I did was smile?
I wonder after a while
What might become of my sadness?
What if I were very, very angry,
And all I did was sit
And never think about it?
What might become of my anger?
Where would they go, and what would they do
If I couldn’t let them out?
Maybe I’d fall, maybe get sick
Or doubt.
But what if I could know the truth
And say just how I feel?
I think I’d learn a lot that’s real
About freedom.
I’m learning to sing a sad song when I’m sad.
I’m learning to say I’m angry when I’m very mad.
I’m learning to shout,
I’m getting it out,
I’m happy, learning
Exactly how I feel inside of me

I’m learning to know the truth
I’m learning to tell the truth
Discovering truth will make me free.

Are you discovering the truth about you? Well I’m still discovering the truth about me. That’s what we do as we keep on growing in life.”

Fred Rogers television show Mister Rogers Neighborhood was intended for children. And he spoke so beautifully to the child’s heart, he was often able to awaken the inner child that still lives within adults. His gentle, compassionate, and understanding presence along with his wisdom has been/is incredibly inspiring and comforting to me in this journey.

Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov” Quotes

These quotes are from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov written in 1880. I first read The Brothers Karamazov for a school assignment. I absolutely loved the book. Though I could not clearly see the book’s message, I knew I found it beautiful. It always remained close to my heart; and I believe it was a large part of the light which helped me start this journey back to myself. I will be forever grateful Dostoevsky helped spread and keep alive these beautiful ideas.

“Strive to love your neighbor actively and indefatigably. In as far as you advance in love you will grow surer of the reality of God and of the immortality of your soul. If you attain to perfect self-forgetfulness in the love of your neighbor, then you will believe without doubt, and no doubt can possibly enter your soul. This has been tried. This is certain.”

“Active love is a harsh and fearful thing compared with the love in dreams. Love in dreams thirsts for immediate action, quickly performed, and with everyone watching. Indeed, it will go as far as the giving even of one’s life, provided it does not take long but is soon over, as on stage, and everyone is looking on and praising. Whereas active love is labor and persistence, and for some people, perhaps, a whole science.”

“I believe that you are sincere and good at heart. If you do not attain happiness, always remember that you are on the right road, and try not to leave it. Above all, avoid falsehood, every kind of falsehood, especially falseness to yourself. Watch over your own deceitfulness and look into it every hour, every minute. Avoid being scornful, both to others and to yourself. What seems to you bad within you will grow purer from the very fact of your observing it in yourself. Avoid fear, too, though fear is only the consequence of every sort of falsehood. Never be frightened at your own faint-heartedness in attaining love…..But I predict that just when you see with horror that in spite of all your efforts you are getting farther from your goal instead of nearer to it – at that very moment I predict that you will reach it and behold clearly the miraculous power of the Lord who has been all the time loving and mysteriously guiding you.”

“At some thoughts one stands perplexed – especially at the sight of men’s sin – and wonders whether one should use force or humble love. Always decide to use humble love. If you resolve on that once and for all, you may subdue the whole world. Loving humility is marvelously strong, the strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it.”

“What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.”

“Life is paradise, and we are all in paradise, but we won’t see it, if we would, we should have heaven on earth the next day”

“Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.”