As is my tradition in this space, here are a few of the most intriguing spiritual and insights I heard (and in some cases rediscovered) from the last 12 months.
May 2011 be full of blessings and rich insights into faith and the divine. Happy New Year to all!
“Be thou comforted, little dog. Thou too in Resurrection shall have a little golden tail.” — Martin Luther
“You can no more force character on someone than you can force a tree to produce fruit when it isn’t ready to do so. The person has to choose, again and again, to develop moral muscles and skills which will shape and form the fully flourishing character.” — Bishop N.T. Wright
“Goodness is not the coin with which we anxiously pay for God‘s love…’Being good’ is the wrong goal. Attached to that notion of ‘being good’ are all the ‘oughts’ and ‘shoulds’ that we think will win us the prize we truly crave: God’s love and divine favor. We are wearing ourselves out in a quest to buy what is already ours: God’s unmerited love.” — Archbishop Desmund and the Rev. Mpho Tutu in their book, Made for Goodness
“Someone believes in us, shows us the light, and on we go until the next leap of faith….There’s a name for these beacons of light and belief. They are called friends.” — Judith Dupre in Full of Grace: Encountering Mary in Faith, Art and Life
“This harvest season, we are also reminded of those experiencing the pangs of hunger or the hardship of economic insecurity. Let us return the kindness and generosity we have seen throughout the year by helping our fellow citizens weather the storms of our day…. I encourage all the people of the United States to come together … to give thanks for all we have received in the past year, to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and to share our bounty with others.” — President Barack Obama in his Thanksgiving 2010 proclamation
“Pray for me. Oh help me God. If there is a God and I hope that there is because I have to believe that there’s going to be someone on the other side who’s going to leave the light on for me when I get there, that there’s going to be someone there to welcome me.” — Laura Linney as “Cathy” in the Showtime series “The Big C”
“Your story of what God did for you is your dad’s story, it’s your mom’s story. And now it’s my story, too…Vasco, this is all of our story. As people we are living lives with hearts that need to be fixed, in places that are unsafe. Jesus comes and gives us new hearts and puts us in a new family and gives us a new name, his name. God has given you a wonderful story and I want you to always tell your story.” — My son Vasco’s godfather, John Michael Pillow, at Vasco’s baptism
“Homer is enticed by the lure of bingo, pancake breakfasts and, oh yes, absolution through Confession. But in the end, Homer doesn’t take the last step to conversion, in part … due to the armed intervention of evangelical Ned Flanders and the Rev. Lovejoy, who are both still fighting the post-Reformation religious wars.” — Mark Pinsky, veteran religion reporter author of The Gospel According to the Simpsons, responding to a report in the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano claiming Homer Simpson is a closet Catholic
“Those three people standing outside [in the rain] aren’t problems to be solved — they are my teachers. They aren’t going to mug me — they’re going to show me the way to God.” — Jane Knuth in Thrift Store Saints: Meeting Jesus 25 Cents at a Time
“The good news is the news of abundance and not the news of limits.” — Bill McDonough, founder of the environmental design movement “Cradle2Cradle,” in his address to the TED convention
“Love them in your sermon and through your sermon.” — the Rev. Tripp Huggins of Wilmette, Ill., offering his best advice for wedding celebrants
“Faith is like swimming the backstroke, reaching above and behind is into an unknown we cannot see. Faith is like driving forward with only the rearview mirror as a guide.” — Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi