I’ve never been very good at feasting on the daily newspaper. It turns bitter in my mouth. And yet, this is my world. This face of suffering I must embrace as a part of my responsibility. Part of the feast is becoming aware of the world that is mine. Part of the feast is owning this broken world as my own brokenness.

Macrina Wiederkehr

We all hope for a . . . recipe; we all believe, however much we know we shouldn’t, that maybe somebody’s got that recipe and can show us how not to be sick, suffer, and die.

Nan Shin

Nature has no mercy at all. Nature says, “I’m going to snow. If you have on a bikini and no snowshoes, that’s tough. I am going to snow anyway.”

Maya Angelou

It is good that fire should burn, even if it consumes your house; it is good that force should crush, even if it crushes you; it is good that rain should fall, even if it destroys your crops and floods your land. Plagues and pestilences attest to the constancy of natural law. They set us to cleaning our streets and houses and to readjusting our relations to outward nature. Only in a live universe could disease and death prevail. Death is a phase of life, a redistributing of the type. Decay is another kind of growth.

John Burroughs

If I were a Brazilian without land or money or the means to feed my children, I would be burning the rain forest, too.


We cannot cheat on DNA. We cannot get round photosynthesis. We cannot say, I am not going to give a damn about phytoplankton. All these tiny mechanisms provide the preconditions of our planetary life. To say we do not care is to say in the most literal sense that we choose death.

Barbara Ward

I knew nothing of reality until Mummy died. She shielded us from everything. And then suddenly I was having to deal with the butler, the two chauffeurs, the cook, and everything else.

Charlotte Brown (nee de Rothschild)

I’ve a strong impression our world is about to go under. Our political systems are deeply compromised and have no further uses. Our social behavior patterns, interior and exterior, have proved a fiasco. The tragic thing is, we neither can nor want, nor have the strength, to alter our course. It’s too late for revolutions, and deep down inside ourselves we no longer even believe in their positive effects. Just around the corner an insect world is waiting — and one day it’s going to roll over our ultra-individualized existence. Otherwise, I’m a respectable Social Democrat.

Ingmar Bergman

If, every day, I dare to remember that I am here on loan, that this house, this hillside, these minutes, are all leased to me, not given, I will never despair. Despair is for those who expect to live forever. I no longer do.

Erica Jong

Despair, surely the least aggressive of sins, is dangerous to the totalitarian temperament because it is a state of intense inwardness, thus independence. The despairing soul is a rebel.

Joyce Carol Oates

Let judges secretly despair of justice: their verdicts will be more acute. Let generals secretly despair of triumph: killing will be defamed. Let priests secretly despair of faith: their compassion will be true.

Leonard Cohen

No one has the right to sit down and feel hopeless. There’s too much work to do.

Dorothy Day

The village had no rain for a long time. All the prayers and processions had been in vain; the skies remained shut tight. In the hour of its greatest need, the village turned to the great rainmaker. He came and asked for a hut on the edge of the village and for a five-day supply of bread and water. Then he sent the people off to their daily work. On the fourth day it rained. The people . . . gathered in front of the rainmaker’s hut to congratulate him and ask about the mystery of rainmaking. He answered them, “I can’t make it rain.” “But it is raining,” the people said. The rainmaker explained: “When I came to your village, I saw the inner and outer disorder. I went into the hut and got myself in order. When I was in order, you, too, got in order; and when you were in order, nature got in order; and when nature got in order, it rained.

Willigis Jager