I just read a book called "The Clear Light of Day" by Penelope Wilcock. The plot is virtually non-existent and predictable, but is the necessary framework for some delightful insights. A few of the characters have great conversations and beautiful thoughts, so I thought I'd share a few quotes here.
"I believe in the stories you hear of people who died and were resuscitated. Those stories about a long tunnel leading up to the light. And the light is full of love and truth. I believe that. Light that sears and light that dances, exquisite to take your breath away, blinding bright. Light that could cut like a laser but also nourish and heal and clean like sunshine. I believe in that. And that one day I will find my way home there. Or maybe not. Is that God --what I believe in?"
[Seer Ember explaining her name]
"Seer. 'Tis a word, you know, you a holy woman. One who sees, a seer is. Inside sight. And I expect you come across an ember before today. The embers is all that's left when a fire dies, but the real heat of the fire is there, under the ashes. Embers look like nothing, finished --but woe betide you if you don't treat 'em with respect. 'Seer Ember.' See?...I bow my head to Jesus Christ, for he walked, and he stopped, and he was nailed; he understood the speed of love. Love burns slow. Enduring. But I want my own name. I'm nobody's property. I am what I am, and my name's my own self. Seer Ember. I sit in the ashes now, but I still got a spark, and I know reality when I see it."
"I believe in the mysteries of Christianity, don't mistake me. Where I stand in life I can well see the cross, and I comprehend its power to transform. I see the resurrection, too, how it lies at the heart of things. If a thing is true, then its truth runs through all of the universe; you take soundings anywhere and you'll find the same truth. Every winter and spring, every sunset and sunrise is the melody of resurrection, and the Christ sits at the heart of it like the pip at the heart of the cherry. There's a deep reverence in me for who Christ is; I know him. I know. But when I told you I got no time for the church, I'm speaking about the house of cards that's built on the top of the mysteries. I'm not interested in all of that. It interferes with the nature of things like Victorian corsets interfere with a woman's body. What I live by is the interweaving and interdependence of all life. The vitality of Spirit is in all creation like sap or blood or breath --even in the stones and the dust and the light, everything. So I believe in treading gently; in healing it where it's hurt and holding it where it's in danger; not using up too much, not taking what isn't given. I think I'm not separate from anything that shares life with me; if I hurt you or disrespect you, I diminish myself...We are all one thing, the being of God expressed in creation, most lovable, most profoundly to be adored. To me 'integrity' means the out-living of that oneness in accountability; looking after things, being trustworthy, keeping faith."
"..I suppose what you mean is the relationship between holiness and wholeness. In the Lord's Prayer, 'hallowed be thy name,' the word hallow means holy but comes from the same root as in the Old English greeting wes hal! which means 'be thou whole!' and is the basis for our modern hallow. Healing, completeness, come from the Spirit."
"...I believe we are held in God. It is all sacred because it is held in the mind of God and maintains its being because it is held in the heart of God. We are in God as the save is in the ocean; and God is in us as the ocean is in the wave...
"When I was a child Mother had a text framed...IF GOD FEELS FAR AWAY FROM YOU --WHO MOVED? After Dad and Mother died, I took it down because I never liked it. Because I think if you feel far away from God that's just part of the loneliness of being we all suffer. Maybe it means you need a hug or a cup of tea with a friend or an early night, but it can't possibly mean you moved away from God; I mean, where would you go? 'Whither can I go from thy Spirit?' God wouldn't be God if God had finite being --love you could stray outside of...
I believe every agony, every cruelty, every adversity is a chance to learn wisdom and compassion, a better way. Patience. Like the paintings that show Christ's hands open, with the nails in their palms. Not clenched. Agonized, but open. It isn't how it must have been, physically; it's an icon of the spiritual wisdom of the cross. And even while I'm struggling to explain, I know it doesn't all tie up neat. There's just some things I don't understand. But in my heart I feel it."
"Simplify; small is beautiful; cherish the living earth; bless the community where you live; think globally, act locally; watch your boundaries; choose what is handmade with love; don't eat food you don't like; don't be deprived of firelight; don't take anything seriously; and don't let people get you down."
"Ember, do you pray?"
"I light fires...Anywhere. In the orchard. In the little hearth in my bedroom. At my old place I lit 'em in the garden near the hedge. Under the stars is best. Fires is fragrant, and calls to the Being at the heart of it all. Twig by twig I makes 'em. I takes my time --just little fires we're talking about, not roaring great bonfires. On the burning I lay dried pinecones from the woods and the roadside. Slips of rosemary, dried sage. In the smoke is all my yearnings. Dreams that never came to be. My sense of home. In the smoke is the brown bears, kept in cages, their gallbladders tapped for bile for Chinese medicine. And foxes, running for home, not knowing their earth is blocked by the hunter. And the forests, cut down for loggers and cattle ranchers. And the streams, fouled with factory effluents and sewage corpses. In the smoke is the bluebell woods and the daffodil woods, the brilliance of the moon, and a bird singing after dusk on a warm summer night. The sound of the surf on the shingle, and the wind in the tops of the pines. I sits by the fire, and I says nothing, although sometimes I weep. I'm not sure what deity is, my love; but life is sacred, life is wise. One day, if my smoke finds the way home, and wakes the great Spirit, then the face of life that is death will come speeding silent like a hunting owl, and take the cancer of humanity off this poor, stripped, raped mother Earth, take it silent and quick, no more than a squeak of alarm; and the mountains will have their peace again, and the oceans give back the heavenly blue. The guns and the cars will rust, and the televisions will be quiet at last, and the factories and schools and government buildings will be for the bramble, the rat, and the crow. Is that what you call praying? Or is it just fires?"
"Take quiet time every day. Invite your God. Say, 'God, have you got your full attention on this moment? Good. So have I.' I tell you what isn't prayer, my love. Worrying isn't."
"My experience is limited, but I guess you have to be wary of eloquence. In general, if a man is in love --I mean really, deeply in love --you won't get much more out of him than the bleat of a strangled sheep when he tries to tell you how much he cares for you. Never trust the staying power of a love that can be expressed as 'I adore you, darling!'"
"I had a day when I asked myself, What is it all? What's it for? I remember it, I was standing in the lane that leads off the top of Stoddards Hill, high summer, and I just stood there and listened to the heartbeat of it, and I saw that life held out its hands to me, and that in the very core of it all there is joy. Make no difference that you got to grieve sometimes and these things happen that tear the very gut out of you. Makes no difference. Its heartbeat is joy, and it holds out its hands to you, and the only doorway into it is this living moment. Worry and fear and longing and desire is about living in tomorrow, and grief and bitterness and regret and pain is living in yesterday. Life is joy, and joy is never tomorrow. There is only now. If you ain't living now, why, then, you're dead. And trying to please other people slams the door to joy shut in your face. Walk your own track. Listen to life's voice with your own ears. Don't trust truth in packets, especially the ones got warnings and contracts with 'em. Don't parade your soul around; live quiet and small and simple. Don't blame anybody for what happens, don't ask favours and don't look for approval. There's joy at the middle, but you got to trust things enough to turn your back on the party and choose it."
"To walk with God is an unfolding rhythm of life, a wild music of many moods and tempos, embracing the shadows of doubt and disillusionment and the black dark of despair as well as the sweet blue heavens of joy and affirmation, the glorious sunset colours of the soul moved by beauty, amazed by peace."