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Traveling Mercies book cover

Traveling Mercies Quotes

Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.
It's funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools - friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty - and said 'do the best you can with these, they will have to do'. And mostly, against all odds, they do.
It turned out this man worked for the Dalai Lama. And she said gently-that they believe when a lot of things start going wrong all at once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born-and that this something needs for you to be distracted so that it can be born as perfectly as possible.
The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.
Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.
...because when people have seen you at their worst, you don't have to put on the mask as much.
It is unearned love--the love that goes before, that greets us on the way. It's the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left, when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking and most charming charm have failed you. Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there.
...most of the time, all you have is the moment, and the imperfect love of the people around you.
The depth of the feeling continued to surprise and threaten me, but each time it hit again and I bore it...I would discover that it hadn't washed me away.
...music is about as physical as it gets: your essential rhythm is your heartbeat; your essential sound, the breath. We're walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn't get to any other way.
The thing about light is that it really isn’t yours; it’s what you gather and shine back. And it gets more power from reflectiveness; if you sit still and take it in, it fills your cup, and then you can give it off yourself.
It's so awful, attacking your child. It's the worse thing I know, to shout loudly at this 50 lb. being with his huge trusting brown eyes. It's like bitch-slapping E.T.
[Her] work taught me that you could be all the traditional feminine things -- a mother, a lover, a listener, a nurturer -- and you could also be critically astute and radical and have a minority opinion that was profoundly moral.
Who was it who said that forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a different past?.
Mine was a patchwork God, sewn together from bits of rag and ribbon, Eastern and Western, pagan and Hebrew, everything but the kitchen sink and Jesus.
Then the singing enveloped me. It was furry and resonant, coming from everyone's very heart. There was no sense of performance or judgment, only that the music was breath and food.
I don’t know why life isn’t constructed to be seamless and safe, why we make such glaring mistakes, things fall so short of our expectations, and our hearts get broken and out kids do scary things and our parents get old and don’t always remember to put pants on before they go out for a stroll. I don’t know why it’s not more like it is in the movies, why things don’t come out neatly and lessons can’t be learned when you’re in the mood for learning them, why love and grace often come in such motley packaging.
I think that is why we stay close to our families, no matter how neurotic the members, how deeply annoying or dull- because when people have seen you at your worst, you don’t have to put on the mask as much.
I smiled back at her. I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.
There is nothing more touching to me then a family picture where everyone is trying to look his or her best, but you can see what a mess they all really are.
This is the most profound spiritual truth I know: that even when we're most sure that love can't conquer all, it seems to anyway. It goes down into the rat hole with us, in the guise of our friends, and there it swells and comforts. It gives us second winds, third winds, hundredth winds.
Now she and I sit together in her room and eat chocolate, and I tell her that in a very long time when we both to go heaven, we should try to get chairs next to each other, close to the dessert table.
And my fear of failure has been lifelong and deep. If you are what you do- and I think my parents may have accidentally given me this idea- and you do poorly, what then? It’s over; you’re wiped out. All those prophecies you heard in the dark have come true, and people can see the real you, see what a schmendrick you are, what a fraud.
I know that sometimes these friends feel that they have been expelled from the ordinary world they lived in before and that they are now citizens of the Land of the Fucked.
For twenty years I have ached to go back home, when there was nobody there to whom I could return.
Without using the word, everyone started forgiving each other again. Just like that, from the no of all nothingness: you have a big tense mess and out of it comes some joy. It must be magic.
Maybe it is because music is about as physical as it gets: your essential rhythm is your heartbeat; your essential sound, the breath. We’re walking temples of noise, and when you add the tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn’t get to any other way.
There is something so tender about this to me, about being willing to have your makeup wash off, your eyes tear up, your nose start to run. Its tender partly because it harkens back to infancy, to your mother washing your face with love and lots or water, tending to you, making you clean all over again.
...that grace is having a commitment to - or at least an acceptance of - being ineffective and foolish.
They always threw their arms around and hugged me while crying our Yiddish endearments. Yet none of them believed in God. They believed in social justice, good works, Israel, and Bette Midler. I was nearly thirty before I met a religious Jew.
Here are the two best prayers I know: "Help me help me, help me," and "Thank you, thank you, thank you.
These are pictures of the people in my family where we look like the most awkward and desperate folk you ever saw, poster children for the human condition.
The clipping said forgiveness meant that God is for giving, and that we are here for giving too, and that to withold love or blessings is to be completely delusional.
Can you imagine the hopelessness of trying to live a spiritual life when you’re secretly looking up at the skies not for illumination or direction, but to gauge, miserably, the odds of rain?.
I do not at all understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.
I kept asking God for help, and after a while I realized something -- that Josh was not enjoying this either. He was just trying to take care of himself, and I made the radical decision to let him off the hook.
All these years I fell for the great palace lie that grief should be gotten over as quickly as possible and as privately. But what I've discovered since is that lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place and that only grieving can heal grief; the passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone, without the direct experience of grief, will not heal it.