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.”
The Canadian painter Alex Colville (1920-2013) was that most curious of artistic hybrids, both a realist and a modernist. In fact art critic Jeffrey Myers, in an article entitled “Dangerously Real,” called Colville “one of the greatest modern realist painters.”
The backyard of our former house featured a neighborhood playground. While sitting on my deck one day, I overheard two little girls at play.
In mirrors I see myself. But in mirrors made of glass and silver I never see the whole of myself. I see the me I want to see, and I ignore the rest.
One of the many books I hope to publish one day is The Night Stair: Reflections on Contemplative Prayer.
Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” begins with the line, “I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.” This is not a bad way to begin the practice of contemplative prayer.
My favorite character in literature is Father Zossima, the saintly old monk who forms the spiritual center of gravity in Dostoyevsky’s last and greatest novel, The Brothers Karamazov. On his deathbed, in the climactic scene of the first half of the book, Zossima reflects in the following words on his childhood and on the biblical story of Job: