Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said, “Abba, as much as I am able I pray, I meditate, I fast. I remain quiet. I keep my thoughts clean. What else should I do?”
The old man stood up and stretched out his hands toward heaven, and his fingers became like the torches of flame. And he said, “Why not be turned into fire?”
Each act is a virgin, even the repeated one.
I never ask a wounded person how he feels; I myself become the wounded person.
I have suffered, oh yes, certainly I learned how to suffer. But is suffering so very serious? I have come to doubt it. It may be quite childish, a sort of undignified pastime. I’m referring to the kind of suffering a man inflicts on a woman or a woman on a man. It’s extremely painful. I agree that it’s hardly bearable. But I very much fear that this sort of pain deserves no consideration at all.
We do survive every moment, after all, except the last one.
He felt emotion climbing hand over hand up his body with its strange and perfect agility.
Why is it better to love than be loved? It is surer.
There is no reality except the one contained within us. That is why so many people live such an unreal life. They take the images outside them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself.
I like reality. It tastes of bread.
Sometime in your life, hope that you might see one starved man, the look on his face when the bread finally arrives. Hope that you might have baked it or bought it or even kneaded it yourself. For that look on his face, for your meeting his eyes across a piece of bread, you might be willing to lose a lot, or suffer a lot, or die a little, even.
No is the wildest word we consign to language.
The chains that bind us most closely are the ones we have broken.
There are many things in your heart you can never tell to another person. They are you, your private joys and sorrows, and you can never tell them. You cheapen yourself, the inside of yourself, when you tell them.
The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes — ah, that is where the art resides.
Max Ernst used to describe how, as a child, he would watch his father painting in the back garden. One day Ernst Senior was stymied by a tree that he could not paint satisfactorily, so, to the outrage of his son the budding surrealist, he fetched an axe and chopped it down, editing it from both life and art.
The life of faith is the untiring pursuit of God through all that disguises and disfigures him and, as it were, destroys and annihilates him.
There are essential and inessential insanities. . . . Inessential insanities are a brittle amalgamation of ambition, aggression, and pre-adolescent anxiety — garbage that should have been dumped long ago. Essential insanities are those impulses one instinctively senses are virtuous and correct, even though peers may regard them as cuckoo. Inessential insanities get one in trouble with oneself. Essential insanities get one in trouble with others. It’s always preferable to be in trouble with others. In fact, it may be essential.
The second half of the twentieth century is a complete flop.