I have been looking back through my notebooks where from time to time I write down extracts and quotations that particularly speak to me. It’s very satisfying to copy someone else’s words, and I find it’s a rich resource for giving talks, creative ideas and wisdom. If you haven’t got such a collection on the go, can I recommend it? It’s also a great excuse to buy a gorgeous new notebook.
Here is a selection:
Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing: ink is the great cure for all human ills, as I have found out long ago.
C.S. Lewis, in a letter to Arthur Greeves
I read somewhere of a shepherd who, when asked why he made, from within fairy rings, ritual observances to the moon to protect his flocks, replied: ‘I’d be a damn’ fool if I didn’t!’ These poems, with all their crudities, doubts, and confusions, are written for the love of Man and in praise of God, and I’d be a damn’ fool if they weren’t.
Dylan Thomas, Note in his Collected Poems 1934-1952
If one turns aside from Christ to go towards truth, one will not go far before falling into his arms.
Simone Weil, Waiting on God
When you have become God’s in the measure He wants, He Himself will know how to bestow you to others, unless for thy greater advantage, He prefer to keep thee all to Himself.
The words of St Basil
Throughout the world sounds one long cry from the heart of the artist: ‘Give me the chance to do my very best!’
Papin, in the film Babette’s Feast (1987)
Whatever the attitude of the novel, however your world is viewed, it must be your own. Not your own as a public person, not your own as a Christian or an atheist or a communist or a Conservative, but as a private person.
Writing a novel, John Braine
Through the Moomins, she’s writing absolutely from the heart. She connected so easily with me from across all those demographics, those oceans, those gaps of time, because she put so much of herself into those stories. They’re so honest, they’re so vulnerable, there’s nothing calculated about them; and that’s always universal. If you’re really, really personal, if you’re really, really particular to what’s hurting you or what’s making you happy, then you become universal.
Frank Cottrell Boyce, interviewed for BBC Scotland, Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson
‘That’s what you humans do: bring order out of chaos.’
Dr Who in the Tardis, talking to his female companion as they watch rocks hurtling through space to form the Solar System.
…science has discovered that places where true novelty can emerge have to be located at what we can call ‘the edge of chaos’. New possibilities can only come into existence in regions where both order and disorder interlace each other.
John Polkinghorne, in a sermon on Radio 4
I think you can define humanity as people who pray.
Sister Wendy, Arena: Sister Wendy and the Art of the Gospel
A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.