Embracing the Contradictions of Life
by Joan Chittister
I found the beginning profound, the middle cliché, and the almost-end profound again. There are parts of her philosophy that I do not agree with, but there was still much for me to reflect upon. I was especially challenged by her thoughts on moral courage. She sees many things clearly, and has a knack for beautiful phrases:
"It is the challenge to face up to the unfinished business of my life. To resolve what I regret. To confront whatever it is that is blocking my ability to live a life free of consternation, alive with joy. Indeed, we can’t ever really run away from anything. We can only settle it or be harassed by it all the nights of our life. It is a choice we make that will affect the entire rest of our lives. It is the martial art of the soul."
"To be so happy anywhere you never want to leave it, to love someone so much you cannot bear to say good-bye, must be one of God’s greatest blessings. …Choose wisely. May sadness be the measure of your wisdom as you go."
Is it worth reading? Yes. Worth finishing? Yes again. I almost didn't, but was glad that I did. I gave it three stars because when she was good she was brilliant, but there were times that I felt like she took the easy way out, serving up a little more platitude than paradox.
But still, someone who can come up with the phrase "the martial art of the soul" definitely deserves a read.
I received a free copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion.
The things of the soul—the joy of life, the love of beauty, the gift of friendship, the integration into nature, the pursuit of truth and the depth of the spirit—grow in open land, bare of the baubles of life, free of frenzy and devoid of the chaos of accumulation. Then we are rich. Then we are strong. Then no one can take anything away from us because we have already relinquished it.
Mignon McLaughlin writes, “It’s the most unhappy people who most fear change."
Epictetus wrote: “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants."
...holiness depends on choices that have been tested by opportunities.
George Soros says, “…there is no shame in being wrong, only in failing to correct our mistakes.”
…what it was for which the soul pined that was making it impossible to accept the good of where they were in life.
Great pain does not dampen hope and great opportunity does not ensure it.
When we align being able to do what we want while we do what we must, the fog of hopelessness will lift.
“Bloom where you are planted,” the poster reads. But the poster does not tell the whole story. “Plant yourself where you know you can bloom” may well be the poster we all need to see. Or better yet, “Work the arid soil however long it takes until something that fulfills the rest of you finally makes the desert in you bloom.”
As Hemingway writes: “Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.”
“A single event,” (Antoine de Saint-) Exupéry writes, “can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.”
Everything I choose is not the best choice I could have made, perhaps, but the way I deal with it is the choice that will define me in the end.