How surely gravity's law,
strong as an ocean's current,
takes hold of even the smallest thing
and pulls it towards the heart of the world.

Each thing -
each stone, blossom, child -
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we each belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered 
to earth's intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.
So like children, we begin again
to learn from things,
because they are in God's heart;
they have never left him.

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that before he can fly.

Rainer Maria Rilke

What makes the spiritual life different from any other life? What are we doing that is so different from what everybody else is doing? The answer is it not what we are doing at all that makes the spiritual life different from the life lived without consciousness. The answer is it is what we are and how we do what we do that is the mark of the spiritual life. It is what we are while we are doing whatever it is we do that makes Benedictine spirituality a gift for all ages.

Joan Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily, p164

If we aspire to less than we can be, we will get exactly that.

The size of our futures depends on the size of our dreams.

Our dreams are the path to a new kind of present. They not only show us what we seek; they show us what it will take to get there. Most of all, they make the length and difficulty of the journey worthwhile.

Joan Chittister, The Art of Life: Monastic Wisdom for Every Day, 47-50.


The Solitude of Night

The problem with this culture may well be that we have destroyed night. Even night is all light and noise and activities now. . . . The loss of night is a loss of human soul, I think, which means that if we do not have it naturally, we need to create it for ourselves: television and computers off, lights out, extra hours of quiet. Then maybe we can find the inside of ourselves again and the voice of God that echoes there so much more clearly than anywhere else.

Joan Chittister, The Art of Life: Monastic Wisdom for Every Day, 37

To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

A person should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of life in order that worldly cares do not obliterate the sense of the beautiful that God has implanted in the human soul.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In God and the World, his book of conversations with Cardinal Ratzinger who later became Pope, Peter Seewald asks:

Isn’t it remarkable, how in spite of our deep-rooted longing for love, we regard everything else as being more important: success, sex, status, money, power. We use almost all of our energy in learning how to reach these goals. And we devote hardly any effort at all to learning the art of loving.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger answers:

Many of the things you mentioned are short-cuts and substitutes. . . it is an essential part of man’s calling to develop his capabilities–and only thus can he fulfill his mission of loving.

Man is meant to develop and actualize the potential within him; he is meant to do something in this world. That’s because learning work skills and setting about a job in no way conflict with his basic task of loving, but give it concrete shape. I am only fulling my mission to love . . . when I become the person I am capable of being. When I am giving what I am able to give. When I open up those possibilities in creation and in the network of human relationships that help us to get through life together and together to shape the fertile capacity of the world and of life into a garden, in which we can find both security and freedom.

This basic impulse goes astray whenever this vocational education aims at no more than the acquisition of skills; whenever mastery over our environment, improving our earning capacity, and the pursuit of power become dissociated from the inner task of loving, from everyone’s being there for everyone else. Whenever power gets the better of giving. Whenever self-assertion, turning in on oneself, the collecting of things around oneself becomes more than the primary aim and, in this way, man’s capacity for loving is choked off. Man is then dominated by things and no longer knows how to value them properly.

It is important that we not see our abilities, our vocational training, as being in themselves merely secondary. Certainly, all our abilities and all the technological capacity of man should be kept in their proper place, in our minds, and ought not to become autonomous. Whenever power becomes autonomous and is the sole category of judgment for man, then it turns into slavery and is the opposite of love.

The above quote was taken from a section titled “How Do We Learn to Love?” in pages 190-191.

To find out how to develop and actualize your potential, and to become the person you are capable of being, go to Circles of Growth.

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