Thank you Brennan for showing us the Abba of Jesus as only you could…RIP…
I have had a few great opportunities to be with Brennan and experience his love for God through his teaching. He was always impacting, always honest, and always revealed a picture of Jesus and the love of Abba that was real, radical, scandalous and immersed with ruthless grace.
I remember asking Brennan about dealing with a particular “hot button” issue in the church, and how to approach dealing with the people involved…his answer was quick, and honest. He said, “You know Monty, God has just called me to love whatever person or group of people who are in front of me, no matter what or who they are.” I thought, “that’s too easy.” But I knew he was absolutely right. Grace has a way of simplifying issues. Grace is the great equalizer of -all- sins. Grace is the reality of Jesus that Brennan breathed in and out daily.
Here are some of my favorite Brennan quotes:
“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.”
― Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child:
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”
“Real freedom is freedom from the opinions of others. Above all, freedom from your opinions about yourself. ”
― Brennan Manning, The Wisdom of Tenderness
“The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation. Not to make people with better morals but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friend, is what it really means to be a Christian.”
― Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God
“Imagine that Jesus is calling you today. He extends a second invitation to accept His Father’s love. And maybe you answer, “Oh, I know that. It’s old hat.”
And God answers, ‘No, that’s what you don’t know. You don’t know how much I love you. The moment you think you understand is the moment you do not understand. I am God, not man. You tell others about Me – your words are glib. My words are written in the blood of My only Son. The next time you preach about My love with such obnoxious familiarity, I may come and blow your whole prayer meeting apart.
Did you know that every time you tell Me you love Me, I say thank you?”
― Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
“While the impostor draws his identity from past achievements and the adulation of others, the true self claims identity in its belovedness. We encounter God in the ordinariness of life: not in the search for spiritual highs and extraordinary, mystical experiences but in our simple presence in life.”
― Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child
“When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.
To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”
The gospel of grace nullifies our adulation of televangelists, charismatic superstars, and local church heroes. It obliterates the two-class citizenship theory operative in many American churches. For grace proclaims the awesome truth that all is gift. All that is good is ours not by right but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God. While there is much we may have earned–our degree and our salary, our home and garden, a Miller Lite and a good night’s sleep–all this is possible only because we have been given so much: life itself, eyes to see and hands to touch, a mind to shape ideas, and a heart to beat with love. We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh. We have the power to believe where others deny, to hope where others despair, to love where others hurt. This and so much more is sheer gift; it is not reward for our faithfulness, our generous disposition, or our heroic life of prayer. Even our fidelity is a gift, “If we but turn to God,” said St. Augustine, “that itself is a gift of God.”
My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”
― Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
In his book “The Furious Longing of God” Brennan told the story of Yolanda. She was in a care center for Hansen’s disease (leprosy). Brennan was serving as a chaplain, and on one particular day he was told that Yolanda was dying and he should go and see her quickly.
“… I went up to Yolanda’s room on the second floor and sat on the edge of the bed. Yolanda is a woman thirty-seven years old. Five years ago, before the leprosy began to ravage, she must have been one of the most stunningly beautiful creatures God ever made. . . . But that was then.
Now her nose is pressed into her face. Her mouth is severely contorted. Both ears are distended. She has no fingers on either hand, just two little stumps.
Two years earlier, her husband divorced her because of the social stigma attached to leprosy, and he had forbidden their two sons, boys fourteen and sixteen, from ever visiting their mother. . . . As a result, Yolanda was dying an abandoned, forsaken woman.
I… prayed with her. . . . [T]he room was filled with a brilliant light. It had been raining when I came in; I didn’t even look up, but said, “Thanks, Abba, for the sunshine. I bet that’ll cheer her up.”
As I turned to look back at Yolanda – and if I live to be three hundred years old I’ll never be able to find the words to describe what I saw – her face was like a sunburst over the mountains, like one thousand sunbeams streaming out of her face literally so brilliant I had to shield my eyes.
I said, ‘Yolanda, you appear to be very happy.’
With her slight Mexican-American accent she said, ‘Oh, Father, I am so happy.’
I then asked her, ‘Will you tell me why you’re so happy?’
She said, ‘Yes, the Abba of Jesus just told me that He would take me home today.’
I vividly remember the hot tears that began rolling down my cheeks. After a lengthy pause, I asked just what the Abba of Jesus said.
‘Come now, My love. My lovely one, come.For you, the winter has passed, the snows are over and gone, the flowers appear in the land, the season of joyful songs has come.The cooing of the turtledove is heard in our land.Come now, My love. My Yolanda, come.Let Me see your face. And let Me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and your face is beautiful.Come now, My love, My lovely one, come.’
Six hours later her little leprous body was swept up into the furious love of her Abba. Later that same day, I learned from the staff that Yolanda was illiterate. She had never read the Bible, or any book for that matter, in her entire life. I surely had never repeated those words to her in any of my visits. I was, as they say, a man undone”
As Brennan closed his eyes forever on this side of the grave, and then opened them and saw Jesus face to face, I believe the first thing he heard from the mouth of God was:
‘Come now, My love. My lovely one, come. For you, the winter has passed, the snows are over and gone, the flowers appear in the land, the season of joyful songs has come.The cooing of the turtledove is heard in our land.Come now, My love. My Brennan, come.Let Me see your face. And let Me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and your face is beautiful.Come now, My love, My lovely one, come.’
Ah, it’s a new year and time for refocusing, refreshing and renewing every area of your life. If you are ,married, this is a great time to pull your spouse aside and dream and pray together about what God might have in store for you as individuals and as a couple this year. The quality of your marriage will affect every area of your life, as well as your other relationships. For some, it becomes so easy to let the attention that your spouse needs slide as the years go by, and slowly a drift is created that is hard to mend.
As your marriage launches into the new year, here are 7 tips to help you stay on track and in love!
#1. Stop Trying To Control Each Other.
I know this is easier said than done, but spouses who try to change and control each other are never happy and many end up divorced. As a person grows emotionally it becomes clear that the only person you can control is yourself, yet we use pressure and manipulation to try to make each other do what we want them to do. Sometimes it works, but it always creates a level of resentment in the one under pressure. Instead of trying to control, have a conversation where you express your wants and needs in a non-manipulative way and then release the outcome and choose to love regardless.
#2. Eliminate the word “Divorce” from your marriage vocabulary.
Stresses mount, personalities clash, and circumstances get tough…this is life. But when mounting pressure lands on a marriage, the word “divorce” is thrown around (in a controlling/manipulative way) far too often. When you think of marriage as a covenant and not a contract, you choose to eliminate the use of the word divorce. In study after study, and conversation after conversation, when those who have ben married more than 40 years were asked for advice, the phrase “Don’t use the “D” word” comes up legion.By eliminating using the word ‘divorce’ you are saving your energy for where it is most needed, working through a solution, not throwing away a gift. So this year, if you feel that word forming on your lips, choose instead to write out all the positive attributes about your spouse and why you will stay engaged in a healthy way.
#3. Replace The Seven Deadly Habits of Marriage.
In their book Eight Lessons for a Happier Marriage, authors William and Coleen Glasser MD,MA, write note the seven deadly habits as:
As you look at the list, those are all debilitating control tactics. I like what the Glasser’s give as trade-ins. Instead of seven deadly habits, they recommend practicing seven caring habits:
- negotiating your differences
#4 Invest In Yourself.
Self care is critical to a healthy marriage. A marriage where one person is always sacrificing and never receiving is not healthy, it’s co-dependent. In taking care of yourself, you need to think in terms of:
- emotional health
- spiritual health
- physical health
Are you in touch with how you are feeling? Do you know more than 10 feeling words? Did a traumatic experience in life stunt your emotional growth? Most people might come up with a physical health plan and even a spiritual growth plan, but never consider how they can invest in growing into an emotionally healthy adult who doesn’t need to control, manipulate or have the world focus on them. This does not comes easy, it takes investing in growth classes, books and an integration of physical and spiritual health. Caring for your physical body through exercise, rest, and play is also crucial to a healthy marriage. You are also a spiritual being and need to grow in the areas or prayer, meditation, study and service to others. If you are investing and growing in these three areas you will be self differentiated enough to have a dynamic marriage.
#5 Remember Your Spouse Is Royalty
Have you ever thought about your spouse as royalty? The truth is, all God’s children are royalty and should be treated as such. It is easy to take advantage of each other in marriage, but if you were married to a royal prince or princess, I am sure you would approach them with honor and respect. I think for most marriages, honor and respect are the two most important ingredients you can have. It is possible to respect someone without loving them, but it is impossible to love someone without respecting them. What are some ways to honor and respect your spouse this year?
- speak positively of your spouse in front of others
- never criticize you spouse in public
- own up when you make a mistake
- don’t throw your spouse under the bus
- guard your heart and mind when online
- don’t flirt with people of the opposite sex
- help out before you are asked
- listen when they are talking (eyes engaged, throw down the remote)
- celebrate your spouses’ achievements together
- tell them you are proud of them, love them, desire them
- practice taking your eyes off of you and start serving your spouse in love
#6 Remember to Touch More
You are never too old to touch no matter what your teenagers say! Research shows that consistently touching is great for a marriage as it releases oxytocin and creates a stronger relational bond. So hold hands, rub her shoulders, give each other a massage, give a butt pat or even a high five. Hold each other and kiss for more than 5 seconds. Go on a walk together, snuggle on the couch and watch a romantic movie like ‘Braveheart’ Take an inventory of how often and how you touch and make a commitment to increase it!
#7 Schedule Time Together
Time is our greatest commodity today and a lack of time is a marriage crusher. Even though you might have a little voice inside of you saying, “you shouldn’t have to schedule time to be with your spouse, it should just happen”, reality dictates other. Time is precious and life, work, and family responsibilities often take away all the available time before you even know it’s gone! The remedy is to create a date that you will establish as inviolable for you and your spouse to be together. The amount of time you can take will vary in different seasons of your life, but it is important that you both think about maximizing and scheduling time to be together. This is your opportunity to talk about the dreams and passions you have, the struggles you are going through, and to touch. If life has kept you both very busy, use your date time to ask questions that will reveal the heart of the other person. Doing service projects together, going on mission together, simply walking through the city together, do whatever you can this year to have consistent time with each other that is beyond the household duties.
Each year I re-read “God In The Doorway”, which is found in Annie Dillard’s book, Teaching A Stone To Talk.” The short Christmas story never fails to re-center my soul, and de-scafold my thoughts reminding me that we humans so often miss life’s beauty because we have created an alternate reality formed from ashes of life.
One cold Christmas Eve I was up unnaturally late because we had all gone out to dinner-my parents, my baby sister, and I. We had come home to a warm living room, and Christmas Eve. Our stockings drooped from the mantle; beside them, a special table bore a bottle of ginger ale and a plate of cookies.
I had taken off my fancy winter coat and was standing on the heat register to bake my shoe soles and warm my bare legs. There was a commotion at the front door; it opened, and cold winter blew around my dress.
Everyone was calling me. “Look who’s here! Look who’s here!” I looked. It was Santa Claus. Whom I never-ever-wanted to meet. Santa Claus was looming in the doorway and looking around for me. My mother’s voice was thrilled: “Look who’s here!” I ran upstairs.
Like everyone in his right mind, I feared Santa Claus, thinking he was God. I was still thoughtless and brute, reactive. I knew right from wrong, but had barely tested the possibility of shaping my own behavior, and then only from fear, and not yet from love. Santa Claus was an old man whom you never saw, but who nevertheless saw you; he knew when you’d been bad or good. He knew when you’d been bad or good! And I had been bad.
My mother called and called, enthusiastic, pleading; I wouldn’t come down. My father encouraged me; my sister howled. I wouldn’t come down, but I could bend over the stairwell and see: Santa Claus stood in the doorway with night over his shoulder, letting in all the cold air of the sky. Santa Claus stood in the doorway monstrous and bright, powerless, ringing a loud bell and repeating Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas. I never came down. I don’t know who ate the cookies.
For so many years now I have known that this Santa Claus was actually a rigged-up Miss White, who lived across the street, that I confuse the dramatis personae in my mind, making Santa Claus, God, and Miss White an awesome, vulnerable trinity. This is really a story about Miss White.
Miss White was old; she lived alone in the big house across the street. She liked having me around; she plied me with cookies, taught me things about the world, and tried to interest me in finger painting, in which she herself took great pleasure. She would set up easels in her kitchen, tack enormous slick soaking papers to their frames, and paint undulating undersea scenes: horizontal smears of color sparked by occasional vertical streaks which were understood to be fixed kelp. I liked her. She meant no harm on earth, and yet half a year after her failed visit as Santa Claus, I ran from her again.
That day, a day of the following summer, Miss White and I knelt in her yard while she showed me a magnifying glass. It was a large, strong hand lens. She lifted my hand and, holding it very still, focused a dab of sunshine on my palm. The glowing crescent wobbled, spread, and finally contracted to a point. It burned; I was burned; I ripped my hand away and ran home crying. Miss White called after me, sorry, explaining, but I didn’t look back.
Even now I wonder: if I meet God, will he take and hold my bare hand in his, and focus his eye on my palm, and kindle that spot and let me burn?
But no. It is I who misunderstood everything and let everybody down. Miss White, God, I am sorry I ran from you. I am still running, running from that knowledge, that eye, that love from which there is no refuge. For you meant only love, and love, and I felt only fear, and pain. So once in Israel love came to us incarnate, stood in the doorway between two worlds, and we were all afraid.
*Taken from…”Teaching a Stone to Talk” by Annie Dillard
I came across this article on the Daily Mail UK web site and thought it was worth sharing! Imagine being married for 87 years! That’s how longs this couple has been married. It’s a great interview and they share their longevity tips…MC
To have and to hold … for 87 years! World’s longest married couple share their secrets to living happily ever after
- Karam, 107, and Katari, 100, have been married for 87 years
- They have 8 children and 28 grandchildren together
- The marriage is almost 5 years longer than current Guinness record holders
- Couple say that laughter and looking after each other is key to marriage
By BIANCA LONDON
In an age where few marriages endure the test of time, 107-year-old Karam and his wife Katari Chand, 100, are proof that happy ever after does exist.
The couple, who have eight children and twenty eight grandchildren together, have lived in wedded bliss for 87 years making them the world’s longest married couple.
The pair say that the key to success is looking after each other in every way possible: ‘My trick is to make Katari laugh. I like to tell jokes and make her smile. Being funny is my way of being romantic.’ says Karam.
‘I have been told laughing makes you live longer… my wife is still alive so it must have worked! I love her so much and I want to spend another 80 years by her side,’ said Karam.
From romantic meals to sharing jokes, the couple, who hail from Punjab, India and now live in Bradford ensure that they do little things for each other to keep the romance alive.
‘Health is very important and I wanted to look after him so we could grow old together. Some would say it has worked!
‘Oh and how can I forget, I always save a bit of my chapatti for him. Just a little gesture that he appreciated a lot and it kept me a bit slimmer.’
Karam, who likes to do a word search every day to keep his mind alive, believes that spending plenty of time together has helped their marriage last.
‘We have not spent any long span apart in over 50 years. We go everywhere together – up until a few years ago we went to India every year with the family and for all family weddings we make sure we get to stay together,’ he said.
Their marriage has lasted nearly five years longer than that of the current Guinness World Record holders and the couple are in the process of getting confirmation from the company that they will be named as the new record holders.
Many modern day romances fail to stand the test of time but longevity and experience makes Karam the best man to go to for relationship advice.
‘In the past people used to listen. Now I don’t think people take the time to listen to each other properly. People seem too busy today with work, TV and other stuff going on around them.
‘Relationships are about understanding one another and listening to concerns and problems, so my advice to men and women is to listen to their partners, show interest in what they are saying and help them overcome any worries or problems they are going through,’ he said.
The couple love to make each other laugh and will have a joint birthday celebration in November
And their son Satpaul, who is extremely proud of his parent’s relationship, added his own words of wisdom.
He said: ‘One piece of advice that I can’t stress enough is to keep your parents very close. We live with them in Bradford and look after them because we want to help them live as long as they can together.
‘I don’t want to see their love story end. I truly believe that by helping them over the last few years we have enabled them to enjoy their time together with no stress and being looked after.
‘Also, you have to value them while they are here because you never know how long they are going to be around for.’
The still loved-up couple, who met through an arranged marriage, are having a big party in November to celebrate Karam’s 107th and Katari’s 100th birthday. The Mayor of Bradford as well as lots of community members will be joining in the festivities.
THEIR TOP FIVE TIPS TO KEEPING THE ROMANCE ALIVE
- Always be faithful: always be faithful to one another. When you get married you commit to devoting your life to that person and even when the times are tough, don’t believe that the grass is greener…because it isn’t.
- Look after each other as best you can: if you want to grow old with your partner you have to make sure you always look after each other in every shape and form. Whether it is making a meal, holding your partners hand when crossing the road or being a shoulder to cry on when something goes wrong.
- Be tolerant of each other: everyone has bad habits or annoying traits. Whether it is leaving a towel on the floor or listening to the radio too loudly, you have to tolerate each other and realise that no one is perfect. Of course we irritate each other occasionally, but if you want to last nearly 90 years, learn to love bad habits or it won’t work.
- Listen to each other: the most important thing in a relationship is to listen. People don’t listen anymore because they are too busy with work and TV. Listen to your loved ones’ problems and concerns every day, because then you can help them overcome them and be happier. Also, it brings you closer together because you are the first port of call for each other when there is an issue in your life.
- Follow social and religious values: always make sure you follow social or religious values. Respect, care, cherish, love and value your partner – always treat them how you would want to be treated yourself.
Recently my wife Amy and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. When the big day was arriving we were working with a missionary team in St. Petersburg Russia, and then stopped off in Paris on the way home to mark the anniversary in grand style. (By the way,to the men out there, this is a sure-fire way to make up some well-needed points on the marriage score-sheet!)
Truly, I am so thankful for Amy. She has been an incredible wife, mother, partner and friend on this journey and I can’t imagine who I would be today without her in my life. In Paris we had many opportunities to look back over the years and remember all the events, milestones, hard times and mountaintops that we have experienced together. When we arrived back home, I was met with some news of some other couples that were not celebrating, but were separating, and what had started out as a hopeful future for them was turning into a really dark chapter that was ending in ash.
Marriage is crucial on so many fronts, especially if you are in leadership. Your marriage is a reflection about what you believe to be true about God. It is a reflection about the values you hold. When people look at our marriages they learn a lot about us don’t they?
* How we treat the people we love
* Whether or not we elevate the ones we love
* Can we be trusted to hold shattered emotions
* Whether you are a person worthy to follow or one to avoid
* Will you protect and fight for the ones you love
Yes, our relationships are a big revelation one way or the other about who we are in the core of our soul. If you long to have a marriage that does more than simply exist you must get the magic ingredient of effort and use it liberally because great marriages don’t just happen, they are co-created.Here are four more positive ingredients for you to consider in co-creating a marriage that lasts.
1. Time. In my book Sacred Space I make the following observation:
“Go online or browse any bookstore today and you will find that there are numerous books and articles encouraging couples to spend more time talking intimately with each other. I recently read one article that stated that a marriage could drastically improve if the couple agreed to soend te minutes a day in conversation. I thought, wow, only ten minutes! We are in worse shape than I imagined.”
Time together is crucial for a healthy marriage. There are so many demands upon our time today that it has become easier to give up on co-creating a great marriage, and instead acquiesce to the tyranny of the urget. We put the kids, work, reality TV and even Facebook ahead of marriage and then when things go south we wonder why. As a non-scientific experience this week take note of how much time you spend online and infront of the TVand then weigh that against how much direct one on one time you are investing in your spouse.
Making a priority of investing time into your marriage will pay huge dividends from your spouse feeling like they are the most important thing in your life to actually reigniting the connection that might be laying dormant.
If you have been good at regularly scheduling date nights, long walks, and time to enjoy each others presence, keep on doing it!
2. Study. In todays culture we hear the term “life-long-learner” a lot. A life-long-learner is someone who is committed to expanding their knowledge, understanding and experience through educational and experiential pursuits.
If you would like to co-create an incredible marriage you need to become a life-long-learner or a student of your spouse. Your wedding day did not end your need to understand who your spouse is, in fact your wedding day is actually entrance into the first semester of a sacred life-long-learning adventure.
Obviously this will take a commitment to the first ingredient of time, but here are some other ideas for you:
- Keep asking questions. Ask questions about dreams, hopes, likes and dislikes. Ask questions about struggles and pleasures Ask question that go deeper than, “What’s for dinner?” Ask how he/she would rate your marriage on a scale from 1-10. If it’s not a 10 ask what it would take to get there, then do it! Become observant of habits, desires, disappointments and learn their love language, or what makes them feel most loved. This exercise alone will expand your connection and you will soon realize that you don’t know each other as well as you thought , and that’s a good thing! If you knew it all you’d have no more questions or curiosity.
- Get a book. There are literally thousands of great books to help you grow in your marriage. Get one and read a chapter a week, and then discuss what you read on a date. Grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and share what you learned and ask each other the questions it raised for you. Here are just a few of my favorite books on marriage:
- Take A Marriage Seminar.
- Join a marriage small group.
There are so many more ideas I’d love to put down, but I think you get my point…make it your gaol to have the best possible marriage and then study to get there..
3. Safeguards. What are you doing to fight for and protect your marriage? There are forces out there that are doing everything they can to drive a wedge in the sanctity of marriage and most people are oblivious it would seem. There are choices, decision and boundary issues that you need to determine in order to safeguard the most important human relationship you have.
- Pray daily for your spouse and for your marriage intimacy.
- Avoid compromising situations with someone of the other sex.
- Choose not to flirt with co-workers or other people of the opposite sex.
Ask yourself how you would feel if your spouse exhibited the same behaviors towards others that you do. Some other revealing questions to ask yourself might be:
- Do I find myself texting or emailing someone of the opposite sex more than I do my spouse, why?
- Do I find myself thinking about someone other than my spouse a lot?
- Do I send mixed messages in the way I interact with people of the opposite sex?
If you have fallen into some of the marriage killing traps there is still good news! You can choose to establish safeguards and change the way you interact. This will create a sense of security and safety in your marriage and eliminate many of the potential land mines out there.
4. Support. I believe that your primary responsibility as a married person is to make sure that your spouse becomes the man or woman that God created them to be. This will take Time, Study, and Safeguarding. It also means that you have to become the champion of your spouse.
So instead of nagging your spouse or nagging about them you choose to brag on your spouse and about them. Wives, one of the most life-giving things you can do to build up and support your husband is to say good, nice and positive things about them in front of others! It’s like an adrenalin shot to a mans soul. And men, the same go for your wives. No more sarcastic jokes about cooking, driving or any of the other stereotypical putdowns that get a little laugh yet wound a soul.
Notice and comment on your spouses accomplishments, qualities, successes, and reaffirm over and over again your love and commitment. Not only will you be co-creating an incredible love story, you will be warding off the attacks that could lead to adultery and divorce.
While there is so much more to say, I’ll end here for now as this is only Marriage Matters #1, look for Marriage Matters #2 soon!
Grace and Peace,
Amy and I are going to be in St. Petersburg-Russia soon. We were in Moscow a few years ago and loved it! Even though the people were hard to engage, there was something about the city that drew us. St. Petersburg is different from Moscow as it is the most European of Russian cities. The Hermitage Museum (which I am stoked to see) holds Rembrandt’s painting “The Prodigal Son.” I have a print of that work on my office wall and I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to gaze at it for a while! From the descriptions I have heard and the images I have seen, St Pete looks and sounds beautiful. It would seem we also get a double blessing as we will be experiencing the White Nights” while we are there. The White Nights are a perpetual dusk…it never gets dark…
As we are getting prepped and set to take off, I thought it would be good to absorb to the words of some famous Russian writers, Dostoyevsky & Tolstoy…
“Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn’t calculate his happiness.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground
“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
“People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“Man is a mystery. It needs to be unravelled, and if you spend your whole life unravelling it, don’t say that you’ve wasted time. I am studying that mystery because I want to be a human being.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“You can be sincere and still be stupid.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“To love someone means to see him as God intended him.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, for all the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
“Beauty will save the world”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
― Leo Tolstoy
“In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.”
― Leo Tolstoy
“When you love someone, you love the person as they are, and not as you’d like them to be.”
― Leo Tolstoy
“Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
“Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.”
― Leo Tolstoy
“rest, nature, books, music…such is my idea of happiness…”
― Leo Tolstoy
“Pierre was right when he said that one must believe in the possibility of happiness in order to be happy, and I now believe in it. Let the dead bury the dead, but while I’m alive, I must live and be happy.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
“To get rid of an enemy one must love him. ”
― Leo Tolstoy
“What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are but how you deal with incompatibility.”
― Leo Tolstoy
“Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.”
― Leo Tolstoy, A Confession
“Music is the shorthand of emotion”
― Leo Tolstoy