Wounding and healing are not opposites. They’re part of the same thing. It is our wounds that enable us to be compassionate with the wounds of others. It is our limitations that make us kind to the limitations of other people. . . . I think I have served people perfectly with parts of myself I used to be ashamed of.
A sober friend once said to me, “When I was still drinking, I was a sedated monster. After I got sober, I was just a monster.” He told me about his monster. His sounded just like mine without quite so much mascara. . . . The secrecy, the obfuscation, the fact that these monsters can only be hinted at, gives us the sense that they must be very bad indeed. But when people let their monsters out for a little onstage interview, it turns out that we’ve all done or thought the same things, that this is our lot, our condition. We don’t end up with a brand on our forehead. Instead, we compare notes.
There is a huge abyss within every mind. When we belong, we have an outside mooring to prevent us from falling into ourselves.
Anxiety, heartbreak, and tenderness mark the in-between state. It’s the kind of place we usually want to avoid. . . . The challenge is to let it soften us rather than make us more rigid and afraid. Becoming intimate with the queasy feeling of being in the middle of nowhere only makes our hearts more tender.
I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. . . . I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.
What happens when people open their hearts? . . . They get better.
It is a truism to say that affliction can be a gift, and it is offensive to assert this from outside any person’s particular affliction. But still, pain can crack open whatever spiritual or psychological carapace has kept us from seeing or experiencing some things.
The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook upon life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ — all these are undoubtedly great virtues. . . . But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself — that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness — that I myself am the enemy who must be loved — what then?
Give your sorrow all the space and shelter in yourself that is its due, for if everyone bears his grief honestly and courageously, the sorrow that now fills the world will abate. But if you do not clear a decent shelter for your sorrow, and instead reserve most of the space inside you for hatred and thoughts of revenge — from which new sorrows will be born for others — then sorrow will never cease in this world.
The motto should not be “Forgive one another”; rather, “Understand one another.”
In this age we know about the sufferings all over the world. . . . In earlier times, people were mainly involved in whatever went on in their own immediate area. Suppose we could not hear what was happening in Europe until the news came by schooner? We would still have enough to worry about on our own shores, but we might hope to cure these local evils, and hope is a vital necessity. Now that we see we are members of a worldwide community, the task is harder. All the same, I cherish the feeling that all people everywhere are my neighbors.
Let no one underestimate the need of pity. We live in a stony universe whose hard, brilliant forces rage fiercely.
Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.