Category Archives: Books

Rainer Maria Rilke Quotes

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“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Printed matter - Book cover - German ornamentation

“Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don’t know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going? Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change. If there is anything unhealthy in your reactions, just bear in mind that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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“If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for to the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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Creating Peace by Being Peace

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Great series of questions from one of my meditation tumblr sites.   The answer to number one for me was this Essene book.  LOVED it so much that I read pages out loud to my husband on a road trip.  Great for discussions as well.

1. Favorite spiritually inspiring book

2. Most transformative meditation experience

3. Kind of Nature most called to

4. Favorite yoga pose at the moment

5. Book currently reading or recently finished

6. Current inner challenge

7. Favorite weather

8. Earliest memory

9. Most recent insight

Book description from Amazon:  Representing a synthesis of the author’s decades of multidisciplinary work in meditation, psychiatry, psychotherapy, and spirituality, Creating Peace by Being Peace guides readers in creating peace on seven levels of engagement, from the body to the ecology to God. Author Gabriel Cousens addresses the increasingly urgent need to transform humankind with the ancient peace wisdom of the Essenes, a Judaic mystical group that flourished two millennia ago. He begins by explaining the Essenes and the lessons they can teach us as creators of peace. Individual chapters cover a wide range of possibility, from the personal (“Peace with the Mind”) to the political (“Peace with the Community”). The final chapter, “Integrating Peace on Every Level,” presents a comprehensive plan for peace with the body, mind, family, community, culture, ecology, and God as a pervasive experience in life—moment to moment, day by day. Cousens blends documentary evidence with original interpretation to show that the Essenes actually did live this experience of peace. Most importantly, he transfers their gift to modern seekers as a breathing blueprint for realizing this reality as we walk in our lives; work according to our gifts, joys, and sacred design; and live the path of spiritual awakening—the sevenfold peace.

 

Hermann Hesse

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Hermann Hesse.  I dated a man who loved him, especially Siddhartha, so when he behaved badly and hurt me I took it out on poor old Hermann, too.  Now that I’m grown and happy, I’ve learned to appreciate his writing.  This one took my breath away.

“I have no right to call myself one who knows. I was one who seeks, and I still am, but I no longer seek in the stars or in the books; I’m beginning to hear the teachings of my blood pulsing within me. My story isn’t pleasant, It’s not sweet and harmonious like invented stories; It tastes of folly and bewilderment, of madness and dream, like the life of all people who no longer want to lie to themselves.”

Yin and Yang Mandala

The Comfort of Books

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Each of us, when our day’s work is done, must seek our ideal, whether it be love or pinochle or lobster à la Newburg, or the sweet silence of the musty bookshelves.”     –O. Henry

I remember walking to the Mary Willis Library in Washington, Georgia when I was a young girl.  I would find a book I wanted to check out, but instead of going home, I would sit in one of the chairs or at a table and feel the filtered light, dust motes and old planks while I read, the smell of furniture polish and old books in the air I breathed in and out.  There’s something about a quiet, still old library that no bookstore with overstuffed chairs, coffee and piped in music will ever match.  I wish there were more of them.

Aside – I know they must have needed to put carpet over those gorgeous creaky boards, but GEEZ, couldn’t they have chosen something more in keeping?  That gray pedestrian pile is almost sacrilegious in my second church.  🙂

Mary Willis Library

Book of Hours

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St Ambrose, Book of Hours

Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves: St Ambrose. 1434-40

I love these little miniature books and can only imagine the life’s blood that went into them by the artists.  Look at the mussels or clams rendered in this picture.  Gorgeous!

Why mussels?  “The peaceful coexistence of the crab and mussels surrounding St. Ambrose, for example, are a commentary on his preaching abilities, for it was said he could reconcile the most bitter of enemies. (In the natural world mussels clamp down in the presence of crabs, which crave their delicate flesh.)”

Check this link.  You can see all of the Book of Hours in all its glory.  The internet is a blessing for me today!

 

Eyes of the Heart

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“In this first book to explore photography as a spiritual practice from a Christian perspective, Christine Valters Paintner builds on the process of contemplative creativity she introduced online at Abbey of the Arts and in her book The Artist’s Rule. She considers how a camera can help readers open “the eyes of the heart.”More than a book on photographic technique, Eyes of the Heart is about cultivating photography as a spiritual practice. Adapting the monastic practice of lectio divina (sacred reading) into a form of visio divina (sacred seeing), spiritual director and Benedictine oblate Christine Valters Paintner invites readers to a new way of viewing the world–through the lens of a camera. Paintner guides readers through six themes connecting the medium of photography with the Christian spiritual life. Each theme provides a photographic journey in which the reader does not simply take images, but receives images and learns to see with “the eyes of the heart” (Eph 1:18).”Eyes-of-the-Heart

 

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It’s “The Lady or the Tiger” by Frank Stockton, all the way back in 1882.  Here’s a link for the entire short story.   Every bit as good as I remember, although I thought a lot more about it as a child.  It’s the first story where I remember thinking, “Hey, no fair!  There’s no ending!” only to later realize that was exactly the point.

The Lady or the Tiger

Late Night Book Finish

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Last night I finished reading Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe.  What a sad end to a short life.  I wouldn’t call her a candle in the wind, more like a shooting star that took a down trajectory into inevitable ashes.  The author REALLY covered all his bases, read a lot of recently released files and re-interviewed primary sources – some of whom are now telling the truth after covering up for years.  I hate to say it, but the great President John F. Kennedy meets every definition for a sex addict.  Or a sexist pig, not sure which applies more.  51x1iSJHVvL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-67,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

Books I Recommend

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I have two books at the top of my list.  One is the extremely emotive World War II novel, Every Man Dies Alone,  based on a true story, by Hans Fallada.  (Aside – he took his pen name from Fallada, the noble horse in the fairy tale.  Do you remember when they cut the horse’s head off and put it on the castle wall?  He would give the Prince advice from there, but much was ignored, a la Cassandra of Troy.  The name fits perfectly when you read the story.)  Even for a military history buff like me, this book taught me so much more of what it felt like to be a German trapped in that society.

Every Man Dies Alone

 

The other is by Stephan Zweig, The World of Yesterday, described here by Amazon:  “Written as both a recollection of the past and a warning for future generations, The World of Yesterday recalls the golden age of literary Vienna—its seeming permanence, its promise, and its devastating fall.

Surrounded by the leading literary lights of the epoch, Stefan Zweig draws a vivid and intimate account of his life and travels through Vienna, Paris, Berlin, and London, touching on the very heart of European culture. His passionate, evocative prose paints a stunning portrait of an era that danced brilliantly on the edge of extinction.

This new translation by award-winning Anthea Bell captures the spirit of Zweig’s writing in arguably his most revealing work.”

It was a beautiful book with a superb translation from the German.  Stephan Zweig restarted his life twice – once after World War I, when he had to leave Vienna, and again as a Jew after World War II.  By the time of the Second World War, he was so famous that Hitler could not have him out and out killed, but tortured him in degrees by systematically searching every house over and over while he tried to write. Zweig couldn’t face that second start and walked into the ocean with his wife and committed suicide several years after the War.  Don’t worry, that doesn’t spoil this story or the wonderful descriptions of his life as a child.  As he described the stuffy heater, the smell of old socks and the wriggling of little boys on the bench bored by their old school teachers, I could see it, smell it and feel it.

The World of Yesterday