Whoever saves a single life...

“And I read something else,” Jacob goes on. “There was this discussion of the story of Cain and Abel, from the Bible. After Cain kills his brother, God says, ‘The bloods of your brother call out to me.’ Not blood. Bloods. Weird, right? So the Talmud tries to explain it.”

“I can explain it,” says William. “The scribe was drunk.”

“William!” cries Jeanne. “The Bible is written by God!”

“And copied by scribes,” the big boy replies. “Who get drunk. A lot. Trust me.”

Jacob is laughing. “The rabbis have a different explanation. The Talmud says it’s ‘bloods’ because Cain didn’t only spill Abel’s blood. He spilled the blood of Abel and all the descendants he never had.”

“Huh!”

“And then it says something like, ‘Whoever destroys a single life destroys the whole world. And whoever saves a single life saves the whole world.”


Story as life's compass...

“But,” says a teacher, “these are just stories. I’ve got a curriculum to cover. I don’t have time for stories!” Far from suggesting the curriculum be abandoned, I say it is enriched and made meaningful by story. Story does not exist to teach reading skills. Story is the vehicle we use to make sense out of the world–even when we sleep. Dreams are our attempt to make sense out whatever defies logic. Do you know anyone who dreams nonfiction? We dream story.


The writing sings...

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals – sounds that say listen to this, it is important.


To see into... to see through...

Contemplative life is a human response to the fundamental fact that the central things in life, although spiritually perceptible, remain invisible in large measure and can very easily be overlooked by the inattentive, busy, distracted person that each of us can so readily become. The contemplative looks not so much around things but through them into their center. Through their center he discovers the world of spiritual beauty that is more real, has more density, more mass, more energy, and greater intensity than physical matter. In effect, the beauty of physical matter is a reflection of its inner content. Contemplation is a response to a world that is built in this fashion. That is why the Greek fathers, who were great contemplatives, are known as the dioretic fathers. Diorao means to see into, to see through.


The one in a million who moves the world...

Love without courage and wisdom is sentimentality, as with the ordinary church member. Courage without love and wisdom is foolhardiness, as with the ordinary soldier. Wisdom without love and courage is cowardice, as with the ordinary intellectual. Therefore one who has love, courage, and wisdom is the one in a million who moves the world, as with Jesus, Buddha, and Gandhi.


In childhood, all books are books of divination...

Perhaps it is only in childhood that books have any deep influence on our lives. In later life we admire, we are entertained, we may modify some views we already hold, but we are more likely to find in books merely a confirmation of what it is in our minds already; as in a love affair, it is our own features that we see reflected flatteringly back. But in childhood, all books are books of divination, telling us about the future, and like the fortune teller who sees a long journey in the cards or death by water they influence the future. I suppose that is why books excited us so much. What do we ever get nowadays from reading to equal the excitement and the revelation in those first fourteen years?


But the greatest of these...

John says of the world, not that it is wrong, but simply that it “passeth away.” There is a great deal in the world that is delightful and beautiful; there is a great deal in it that is great and engrossing; but it will not last. All that is in the world, the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, are but for a little while. Love not the world therefore. Nothing that it contains is worth the life and consecration of an immortal soul. The immortal soul must give itself to something that is immortal. And the only immortal things are these: “Now abideth faith, hope, love, but the greatest of these is love.”


Time is too slow for those who wait...

Time is
Too slow for those who Wait,
Too swift for those who Fear,
Too long for those who Grieve,
Too short for those who Rejoice,
But for those who Love,
Time is not.

variation:
Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.


Who seeks for heaven alone to save his soul...

Who seeks for heaven alone to save his soul,
May keep the path, but will not reach the goal;
While he who walks in love may wander far,
Yet God will bring him where the blessed are.


Occupy yourself with few things...

Occupy yourself with few things, says the philosopher, if you would be tranquil.