“When we are alone on a starlit night, when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children, when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet, Basho, we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash - at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the “newness,” the emptiness and the purity of vision that make themselves evident, all these provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance.”
— Thomas Merton, in New Seeds of Contemplation (1962)
People without hope not only don’t write novels, but what is more to the point, they don’t read them. They don’t take long looks at anything, because they lack the courage. The way to despair is to refuse to have any kind of experience, and the novel, of course, is a way to have experience. — Flannery O’Connor in Mystery and manners: occasional prose (Ed. by Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, 1969)
If you were exchanged in the cradle and your real mother died without ever telling the story then no one knows your name, and somewhere in the world your father is lost and needs you but you are far away.
He can never find how true you are, how ready. When the great wind comes and the robberies of the rain you stand on the corner shivering. The people who go by— you wonder at their calm.
They miss the whisper that runs any day in your mind, “Who are you really, wanderer?”— and the answer you have to give no matter how dark and cold the world around you is: “Maybe I’m a king.”
William Stafford, Going Over to Your Place: Poems for Each Other (Selected by Paul B. Janeczko, Bradbury Press, New York)