Posts tagged ‘soul’

July 18, 2015

Light within light

The moon looks wonderful in this warm evening light, just as a candle flame looks beautiful in the light of morning. Light within light. It seems like a metaphor for something. So much does. Ralph Waldo Emerson is excellent on this point.

It seems to me to be a metaphor for the human soul, the singular light within the great general light of existence. Or it seems like poetry within language. Perhaps wisdom within experience. Or marriage within friendship and love.

From Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (119).

October 19, 2014

till the ductile anchor hold

Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.

208. A Noiseless Patient Spider

A NOISELESS, patient spider,
I mark’d, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark’d how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them—ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,—seeking the spheres, to connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form’d—till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.

September 2, 2014

a way to make your soul grow

The arts are not a way of making a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

From A Man Without a Country (2005) by Kurt Vonnegut.

August 17, 2014

ripened with legends

Translated by Stephen Spender and J. L. Gili from “Ballad of the Little Square” by Frederico Garcia Lorca:

My heart of silk
is filled with lights,
with lost bells,
with Lillie’s and bees.
I will go very far,
farther than those hills,
farther than the seas,
close to the stars,
to beg Christ The Lord
to give back the soul I had
of old, when I was a child,
ripened with legends,
with a feathered cap
and a wooden sword.

Translated by A. S. Kline from “Ballad of the Small Plaza” by Federico Garcia Lorca:

It’s filled with light, is
my heart of silk, and
with bells that are lost,
with bees and with lilies,
and I will go far off,
behind those hills there,
close to the starlight,
to ask of the Christ there
Lord, to return me
my child’s soul, ancient,
ripened with legends,
with a cap of feathers,
and a sword of wood.

September 30, 2013

the ways in which they unsettle us

One could dare say that a man’s friends do more harm to his soul than his enemies. The Lord Himself said, ‘A man’s foes, shall be they of his own household’ (Matthew 10:36; Micah 7:6). Those who live under the same roof with us, and who are so concerned for our bodily needs and comfort, are often the worst enemies of our salvation, for their love and concern are not aimed at our soul but our body. How many parents have done inestimable damage to the souls of their sons [daughters], and brothers and sisters to the souls of their siblings, and wives to the souls of their husbands [and vice versa]? And this all out of love for them! This realisation, that is confirmed every day, is a further solid reason for us not to give ourselves over too completely to love of our kinsfolk and friends, nor to lesson our love of our enemies. Is it necessary to say once again, that often, very often, our enemies are our true friends? The ways in which they unsettle us are of help to us; the ways in which they denounce us serve for our salvation; the ways in which they press on our outward, physical life help us to withdraw inwards, into ourselves, and find our souls cry to the living God to save them. In very truth, our enemies are often those who save us from the ruin that our kinsfolk prepare, inadvertently making our characters lax and feeding up our bodies at the cost of our souls.

St. Nikolai Velimirovic, Homilies Vol 2, 19th Sunday After Pentecost, p. 196

March 20, 2013

finding contrition of heart and poverty in spirit

From the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete (d. 740 or 720):

My own thoughts like thieves have attacked me, wounding me and covering me with sores. Come now, O Christ my Saviour, to heal me.
A priest was the first to see me naked and in dreadful condition, but he passed by on the opposite side of the road. Then a Levite came but he too ignored me. O Jesus, Who dawned on the world from Mary, come now Yourself and have pity on me. [Wednesday, Ode 1]

Cast out of the banquet for lack of clothes fitting to wear, I awoke with empty lamp like the foolish virgins to find the door to the bridal chamber also closed to me. The supper is eaten but I lay cast out, bound tightly hand and foot. [Wednesday, Ode 4]

O my soul, you have not imitated the prostitute who having washed the Saviour’s feet with her tears and anointed them with perfumed ointment from a costly jar. For this the Lord proclaimed to her, “Go in peace. Your sins are forgiven, for your faith has saved you” [Wednesday, Ode 9]

You, my soul, desire to build a tower as a fortress for your lusts, as the people of Babel erected a tower to increase their strength. But as He did with them, so will the Creator also overthrow your desires and shatter all your plans.
How well have I imitated those first murderers, Cain and Lamech! Through the desires of the flesh I have killed my soul as did Lamech a man, and my mind as once he did a young man. I have also murdered my body as did Cain his brother.
Long ago the Lord rained burning sulfur on the city of Sodom to consume its flagrant wickedness. But you, O my soul, have kindled within yourself the fires of hell which now are about to consume you! [Thursday, Ode 2]

Two thieves were crucified beside You, O Christ. The one abused You while the other confessed You to be God. O most merciful Lord open to me the doors of Your glorious kingdom as You did to the believing thief.
Creation shook beholding Your crucifixion, O Jesus. The mountains and rocks split in fear; the earth quaked and Hell surrendered its prisoners. The sky grew dark at midday seeing You nailed in the flesh to a cross.
O only Saviour, do not require of me in my weakness fruits which will show that I have changed my ways. Grant rather that finding contrition of heart and poverty in spirit, I may offer these to You as a pleasing sacrifice.
Since You know me, O my Judge, look on me in compassion when You come to judge the whole world. Spare and have mercy on me, though I have sinned more than any other. [Thursday, Ode 9]

November 13, 2012

faculty of wonder

There is a deep similarity between the union of the soul and body and the mystery of the family. In both cases we are in the presence of the same fact, or rather something which is far more than a fact since it is the very condition of all facts whatever they may be: I mean incarnation. I am not, of course, using this term in its theological sense. It is not a question of our Lord’s coming into the world, but of the infinitely mysterious act by which an essence assumes a body, an act around which the meditation of a Plato crystallised, and to which modern philosophies only cease to give their attention in so far as they have lost the intelligence’s essential gift, that is to say the faculty of wonder.

From page 69 of “The Mystery of the Family” in Homo Viator by Gabriel Marcel (1965).

May 3, 2012

educating the soul to conform it to reality

Classically, among the great Western philosophers and theologians, happiness denoted the state of the genuine fulfillment of human nature that resulted from being properly related as a person to the truth of reality. Educating the soul to conform it to reality, rather than conforming reality to the dictates of the individual soul, was the secret to the happy life. But those days of defining happiness and the good life, and what it means to be truly human, are long gone.

From Reordered Love, Reordered Lives by David Naugle, page 10.

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