In 1974, a decade before joining the L’Arche community in Toronto, Henri Nouwen made a seven-month retreat at a Trappist monastery called The Genesee. He subsequently published his diary for that period, which ended on Christmas Day. Here is his final entry, dated Wednesday, December 25:
The nice thing about ordinary life is that there’s so much of it. It’s all around us, all the time, so if we can actually learn to like it, we’re home free.
We are marvelous creatures, fearfully and wonderfully made. Yet so much of what we do is utterly mundane.
Everyone has an ordinary life. The Pope has an ordinary life. Movie stars and rock stars have ordinary lives. The person you would most like to be has an ordinary life—every bit as ordinary as yours.
Most of life is ordinary, and God gave us ordinary life as a means of knowing the truth.
I once attended a church conference where a Tent of Prophecy was set up in the parking lot. At some point in the conference we were invited to enter the tent and receive a prophetic word.
Last time I published a selection of quotes about joy and happiness. This week I offer some of my favorite verses on the same theme. To begin with, two poems by William Blake:
In 2003 I published a book about joy entitled Champagne for the Soul. While working on the book, I began collecting quotes about happiness, a practice I continue to this day. I wish some of the recent quotes I’ve found could have made it into the original book. But as it’s too late for that, I present a few of my favorites here:
In a preface to a book of his poems, Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, “I did not ask for success; I asked for wonder. And You gave it to me.” A Jewish rabbi, his wise and prophetic words often speak also to Christians. Here’s just a sample of his writing from a wonderful anthology entitled I Asked for Wonder :
Alex Colville’s art is full of black animals: dogs, cats, crows, horses. Consider his most famous painting, “Horse and Train.”