Tag Archives: quotations

Butter Scraped Over Too Much Bread–Know the Feeling?

For a while, I’d been feeling very…depleted. I kept feeling as though I needed to catch my breath.

As I was trying to describe how I felt, to myself, I was reminded of something Bilbo said to Gandalf in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. It perfectly describes how I’d been feeling. Bilbo said:

I feel I need a holiday, a very long holiday, as I have told you before…Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.”

So I decided to take a few weeks and try to re-charge my battery –which I do mostly through heavy reading. That really, really works for me. Now, once again, I feel like there’s enough butter on the bread.

What do you do, when you need to restore yourself?

What Did Flannery O’Connor Pray For?

Often when I read, I’m struck by something, but I’m not sure why.

I’ve read The Habit of Being several times — it’s a collection of Flannery O’Connor’s extraordinary letters. O’Connor is one of my favorite writers, but I can hardly bear to read her fiction; it makes my head explode.

On July 1, 1964, O’Connor (who was a devout Catholic) wrote to Janet McKane:

Do you know anything about St. Raphael besides his being an archangel? He leads you to the people you are supposed to meet…It’s a prayer I’ve said every day for many years.

A week later, she wrote McKane a follow-up letter, with the prayer, which reads in part:

O Raphael, lead us toward those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us: Raphael, Angel of happy meeting, lead us by the hand toward those we are looking for. May all our movements be guided by your Light and transfigured with your joy.

O’Connor died of lupus two weeks later.

I’ve often thought about this idea, that was clearly so  important to O’Connor — the prayer for being led to the people you are supposed to meet. This struck me as an oddly specific domain for an angel — and why did this matter so much to O’Connor?

But yesterday, I was at an event, and someone told the story of how at a networking event, she’d met a guy, and she told him, “You should meet this other guy I know,” and she’d introduced them, and now they’d started a huge project together.

This chance meeting, and her introduction, had transformed their lives.

As I heard her tell this story, it suddenly became clear to me: for O’Connor, working on her writing, sick, weak, living with her mother in Milledgeville, Georgia, because she couldn’t manage to live on her own, the hope of “meeting the ones we are looking for” would have been enormously important.

We’ve all waited and hoped for a “happy meeting” to occur.

It’s a very important thing, to play the role of making introductions, connecting people, helping to lead them to the people they need to meet. It can be such a huge thing in a person’s life. I myself set up someone I hardly knew on a blind date, and the two people ended up getting married.

As I’m thinking about O’Connor…I wonder if her prayers to meet the person she was looking for was tied, at least in part, to her art.

On March 4, 1962, she wrote to Father J. H. McCown:

I’d like to write a whole bunch of stories like [“Everything That Rises Must Converge“], but once you’ve said it, you’ve said it, and that about expresses what I have to say on That Issue. But pray that the Lord will send me some more. I’ve been writing for sixteen years and I have the sense of having exhausted by original potentiality and being now in need of the kind of grace that deepens perception, a new shot of life or something…

Sometimes this type of renewal comes from an encounter with another person.

Has anyone ever made an introduction for you, that transformed your life? Or have you ever played that role for someone else?

 

Agree? “You Increase Your Self-Respect When You Feel You’ve Done Everything You Ought to Have Done.”

“You increase your self-respect when you feel you’ve done everything you ought to have done, and if there is nothing else to enjoy, there remains that chief of pleasures, the feeling of being pleased with oneself. A man gets an immense amount of satisfaction from the knowledge of having done good work and of having made the best use of his day, and when I am in this state I find that I thoroughly enjoy my rest and even the mildest forms of recreation.”

Journal of Eugene Delacroix

A wonderful, wonderful book by the way. Delacroix, like Andy Warhol and Edward Weston, is an example of a visual artist who is also a brilliant writer.

Can you recommend any other journals by artists?

Do You Watch for the Longest Day of the Year? And Then Miss It.

“Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it.”

— F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

I’ve long been haunted by this line, spoken by Daisy.

But good news: today is the longest day of the year for 2015. So I won’t miss it.

What One Thing Is Most Important for Living One’s Entire Life in Happiness?

“Of all the things that wisdom provides for living one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship.”

–Epicurus

Agree, disagree?  How would you fill in the blank?

“Of all the things that wisdom provides for living one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of _________.”

For instance: faith; true love; meaningful work; peace of mind.