Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Suzanne's "Bible"

 I am a collector of quotations. For more than 30 years I placed a quotation in the blackboard for students to write about or discuss.  To narrow down to a few "to live by" may be impossible but here goes: I have at this moment 8 phrases that I want to center around my life.  I have to keep reminding myself that this is what is important. I don’t always understand them all, and sometimes the meaning changes or reveals something different about me or the world around me.  Ironically, most are bible verses.  I wonder what quotes you might have for your "Bible."

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
I struggle with my faith all the time, especially when Chris died and my sense of “feeling him near me” was lost. I grew up with a lot of faith, yet I do recall asking many times as a youngster for a “sign” from God which never came. To keep my faith I had to re-invent. Re-write my idea of who God was.  I don’t think I am angry with Him, because I don’t think he controls us or our actions. Free will, you know. But I do have faith that if we live our lives in honor of those we have lost, in the end, we will have peace in our hearts. Peace - Faith is there a connection to these two things?
Love never fails. Beloved, let us love one another. (1 John 4:7)
My love for Wayne comes to the forefront. Because it is the hardest to do. Not because of who Wayne is, not at all. But more in the fact that on a day to day, moment to moment basis, loving another person all the time is a challenge. A mother usually has an unconditional love for her children. That’s usually a given. But the commitment to love another person for a lifetime takes strength, flexibility, forgiveness, forgetfulness, and kindness. That is love to me, and with those in place, love will not fail.
Whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. (Phillipians 4:8)
I have to work at this one all the time. So many bad reports are out there in the news, on others’ lips, in the actions we see… it’s easy to fall into complaining about them, gossiping about the bad things people do, or griping about the injustices that befall us. I revert to my mother’s adage “Chew your tongue to hamburger.”  But that is only half the battle. I need to verbalize the praises.
In all things, do unto others as you would have others do unto you. (Mathew 7:12)
The old Golden Rule we learned as children - too perfect to leave out.
The Truth of the Lord endures forever. Hold fast the truth. (Psalm 117:2) or  To thine own self be true. (Shakespeare)
Save this for another day… I’m not sure if truth has a finite definition. One man’s truth can be another man’s lie. But this  “truth of the Lord” - not sure what it is. Another thought I just heard again last night… “I didn’t lie, the truth changed.”
 There is a right time for everything: A time to be born, a time to die; a time to sow ; a time to reap; a time to kill; a time to heal; a time to destroy; a time to rebuild; a time to cry, a time to laugh; a time grieve, a time to laugh; a time for scattering stones, a time to gather stones; a time to hug, a time to not hug; a time to find, a time to lose; a time for keeping, a time for throwing away; a time to tear, a time to repair; a time to be quiet, a time to speak up; a time for loving, a time for hating; a time for war, a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
We just don’t always know or can judge what the right time is. It will take a lifetime to get it right.
We have to let go of the life we planned to start living the life waiting for us. (Joseph Campbell)
This is a kick me in the face kind of realization. As a young and stupid adult, I thought that  if I was well grounded and follow a strong path, then I would have a good life. The bumps, potholes, and black holes  in the road of my journey have rattled my teeth and shaken my chassis to the core. I can either dump the truck or find a way to get back on the road - whether it is finding the right tools, newer parts, or a good mechanic.  The road will always be there, the type of auto is not important. It’s who you are with, and the attitude you have - Happiness is a mode of transportation, not a destination.
Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging. (Joseph Campbell)
This is a lifelong lesson that I have heard many times, many ways, but one that I have repeated to the kids in their short lives when things are tough. Another way we’ve worded it is “that which does not kill you makes you stronger.” No matter how you say it, we have to power within ourselves to overcome any trouble that comes our way. I resist this one because it sort of goes against the Christian philosophy that we need Christ to pick us up when we are overwhelmed. In my studies of the lost scriptures - the Gnostic Bible, the former is a core thought, but was left out of the New Testaments by who knows.


  1. "Whatsoever things are pure..." The older I get the more I find solace in the small things - the things I used to miss or take for granted. Perhaps, it is in the details we find beauty and peace. The larger sweeping miracles are easy to take in. Not stomping on a bug in the house and putting it back outside. Being in the moment while doing dishes or folding clothes. Awareness and gratitude for physical abilities. Literally taking time to smell the flowers. Dental floss. Time to learn a Bible verse - and remember it! A moment to sit on the porch and just be. It may all seem a little trite. Simply saying thank you all day long for things I used to miss. Seeing the beauty even in contentious people! For pencils for writing thoughts on slips of paper in the car. The ability to befriend those who seem unlovable and not be afraid of their sorrow.

  2. Your last entry to this post touches me. As a child, I faced hardships that as I became older, professionals told me were horrifying. They told me these were things that felled most people. Some of the people I encountered were the closest to what I can consider evil - not a word I carelessly use. Blessedly early in life, I became a Christian. Not long after, I also began reading the works of Viktor Frankl. His awareness in the concentration camps and observations of people who entered a God consciousness in order to survive are profound. The philosophy that the most important goal we can attain is to love, sometimes, easier said than than done, in a way that is broad and altruistic. The most meaningful observation he made in the concentration camp was that our freedom to choose our attitude in any given circumstance is the ultimate in freedom. When he describes people who gave their last piece of bread for the weaker ones, they were doing the work of angels. For me, that is a core value - not that I do it perfectly or even close most of the time - but it is a conscious and honorable goal. Some issues are easier than others to work this action. When all else fails and I am getting in the way, I simply ask God for strength to do the next right thing. I work at aligning my will with what I believe is His will. I use my free will to constantly ask for God's help to be part of the solution and not the problem. e

  3. Joseph Campbell can be annoying and comforting. If I had written a story about my life, it would be nothing like reality. Some days, I'm o.k. with that and some days, not so much. When it's all done, I would like for people to say that I had integrity. One thing I did have to let go of was the notion that if I behave, everyone else would. I don't want to be a cynic which some days is a challenge - just smarter.

  4. E, Once again you amaze me ! I can't believe I didn't include Frankl (and Martin Buber). I knew it was going to be hard to make it so small. You mention so many similarities between us. It's so comforting to know someone else finds the same value and outlook on life. You mention books on my shelf that I haven't even talked about! Too cool!

  5. Suzanne, Well, if you like Martin Buber, you would have enjoyed back in the 80's when I was asked to a Buber lecture. My girlfriends were Cal Berkeley graduates and I wanted so much to impress them. I studied Buber and then told them that I couldn't wait to hear his lecture. After they laughed, they informed me that he was long gone! It took me a long time to get over it. e

  6. God's time line vs ours. The seasons. The ebb and flow of life. It is frustrating that God hasn't called me yet this morning to ask for my input. There are many variations of this quote but I like this one: When you get to the end of all the light you know and it's time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly. -
    Edward Teller I'll be surprised if every quote mentioned, you already have in your file!

  7. The truth and the other things of integrity. Yes, sometimes a matter of opinion. I heard a good one. "I didn't really steal it. I took it without permission." Sometimes, I can narrow things to the Ten Commandments and the Seven Deadly Sins but then, that is an awful lot to ponder. Does chocolate fall somewhere in all of this? Then, there is, "The truth will set you free, but first, it will piss you off."

  8. "Whatsoever things are pure..." I have this in my kitchen. I need to be reminded constantly. Justified anger and resentment can really dog me and I miss an opportunity to see beyond the annoying. In the car, especially, I pray to be immediately more calm and respectful - to realize that just because someone may put me in harm's way, I have no right to do the same. I put sticky notes on the dashboard to remind me. I try to pray, "May the Lord keep me and others safe." I love your mother's adage - never heard that one! Years ago, I worked in a very high-strung environment. There were certain people who literally had firing power over me. I struggled to find the one thing good about them. One day, I noticed that one could actually tie his shoes, that one had beautiful hair, that one was very tender with her child over the telephone. I began to see them as burdened with potential! I found that if I said to myself, as they walked by, "May the light of Christ shine upon you," things changed - at least for me. I was no longer afraid and could see their positive worth. It's very easy to see the obvious beauty in the world but so much harder to always strive to take the high road with others. Finally, I continually strive to see the beauty in myself! Your quotes are affirmations. So often, it's nice to just tape them to things around the house, keep in our wallets or copy one and put into a card that someone might need to get in the mail that day. e


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Blessings to you,