“. . . the story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all. For the reader, I suppose, it is like looking through someone else’s photograph album. . . . Once I have put away my album for good, you may in the privacy of the heart take out the album of your own life and search it for the people and places you have loved and learned from yourself, and for those moments in the past–many of them half forgotten–through which you glimpsed, however dimly and fleetingly, the sacredness of your own journey.”

— Frederick Buechner The Sacred Journey

Serenity — Lake Sunapee

More from Frederick Buechner:

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.”

“The best moments we any of us have as human beings are those moments when for a little while it is possible to escape the squirrel cage of being me into the landscape of being us.

From Elizabeth Berg:

“Now, on this road trip, my mind seemed to uncrinkle, to breathe, to present to itself a cure for a disease it had not, until now, known it had.”  The Year of Pleasures

“I hoped we never had to realize all the opportunities we missed in this life.”  The Year of Pleasures

“Never be afraid of doing the thing you know in your heart is right, even if others don’t agree.”  Dream When You’re Feeling Blue


And a bunch from Elizabeth Berg’s True to Form (Love that book!):

“I wish I could leave a trail of gratefulness behind me that you could see, glowing thanks. I would pay to see stars, but I never have to. This to me is one of those miracles.” 

“It is a true embarrassment when you feel shy in front of your own self, and that is just exactly what I feel now. Still, I am willing to try again, because the thing about writing poetry is you can throw away lots of things and then all of a sudden you feel like your pen has turned golden.” 

 “You have to be willing to take chances. You have to not be so afraid. That is the first step to getting anywhere.” 

“But the joke is that you are never home except inside yourself. That is where you have to make the place with the light always on, a chair always waiting . . . .” 

“I wish there would be certain things you come across and you could say, Okay, that’s one. Put that away for me to pull out later just exactly as it is now.”

Coquelicots, Ile de Ré
Coquelicots, Ile de Ré

“It is never about how good your voice is; it is only about feeling the urge to sing, and then having the courage to do it with the voice you are given.”

“It is about what people try to share with each other, even if so many of us are so off-key when we do it. It is about saying we are somewhere, when what we mean is we are as close as we are able to get.”

“One thing I know: Anything we have, we are only borrowing. Anything. Any time.”

“He understands that the truest things are spoken in silence.”

From Goethe:

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

“Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.”

From Anne Michaels:

“Love makes you see a place differently, just as you hold differently an object that belongs to someone you love.  If you know one landscape well, you will look at all other landscapes differently.  And if you learn to love one place, sometimes you can also learn to love another.”  Fugitive Pieces

“Important lessons: look carefully; record what you see. Find a way to make beauty necessary; find a way to make necessity beautiful.”

Sunset on Lake Sunapee
Sunset on Lake Sunapee

From Marilynne Robinson:

“I’ve developed a great reputation for wisdom by ordering more books than I ever had time to read, and reading more books, by far, than I learned anything useful from, except, of course, that some very tedious gentlemen have written books.”  Gilead

“There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, every one of them sufficient.” Gilead


“It has seemed to me sometimes as though the Lord breathes on this poor gray ember of Creation and it turns to radiance–for a moment or a year or the span of a life. And then it sinks back into itself again, and to look at it no one would know it had anything to do with fire, or light. . . . But the Lord is more constant and far more extravagant than [that] seems to imply. Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don’t have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see.” Gilead

From C.S. Lewis:

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” Mere Christianity

Dordogne River Valley, France
Dordogne River Valley, France

“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born.” Till We Have Faces

From L. Frank Baum:

“Never question the truth of what you fail to understand, for the world is filled with wonders.”

From Jessica Hagy How To Be Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps):

“Look with open eyes. Remember how amazing the world was before you learned to be cynical. . . . Less crankiness. More marveling.”

“What’s more interesting: A famous scientist, or the famous scientist who plays the cello and whittles marionettes in a lighthouse at the edge of the world where he sometimes writes poetry by the light of passing ships? Exactly.”

“If it is unappetizing: Do not eat, date, or sign up for it. If the mere thought of it is depressing: Do not major in it, sit through it, or devote your life to it. . . . You will thank yourself.”

“Whatever you’re doing, enjoy it. Embrace it. Master it as well as you can.”

“Do the best good. Ask yourself: Is this the best that’s possible? Then ask: Well, what is? And spend your time working on that.”

“Follow your weird impulses and do all sorts of things. Getting sidetracked can lead you to exactly where you belong.”

Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska

“Embrace your weirdness. No one is normal. Everyone has quirks and insights unique to themselves.”

“Talk to strangers.”

“Risk ordinary for great. . . . Risking the ordinary is the only way to get something extraordinary.”

“Don’t coast unless you’re rolling downhill on a bicycle.”

“Just because you’ve never been somewhere doesn’t mean you don’t belong.”

A little more Frederick Buechner:

“Generally speaking, if you want to know who you really are as distinct from who you like to think you are, keep an eye on where your feet take you.”

“Literature, painting, music–the most basic lesson that all art teaches us is to stop, look, and listen to life on this planet, including our own lives, as a vastly richer, deeper, more mysterious business than most of the time it ever occurs to us to suspect as we bumble along from day to day on automatic pilot.”


“In a world that for the most part steers clear of the whole idea of holiness, art is one of the few places left where we can speak to each other of holy things.”

From Albert Einstein:

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

From Richard Foster:

“The obsession to demand that things go the way we want them to go is one of the greatest bondages in human society today.”

From Vivian Swift’s Le Road Trip:

“I had it all planned. That was my first mistake.”

“Every road trip needs a low point.”

Two of her “Survival tips for love and travel”

  • Allow each other to make three stupid mistakes per day. Count each stupidity-free day as a blessing.
  • Each morning, look at yourself in the mirror and say: ‘You’re no bargain either.’

“Vagabonding is an acquired taste. And as in all acquired tastes, a true gourmet knows just the right amount it takes to produce a peak experience.”

“See as much of life as possible, but take time to notice it too.”

Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon
Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon

From a tiny book I discovered while packing, called Quotable Women: A Collection of Shared Thoughts:

Eleanor Roosevelt: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Beverly Sills: “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”

Mother Teresa: “We can do no great things — only small things with great love.”

Billie Burke: “Age is something that doesn’t matter, unless you are a cheese.”

Lauren Bacall: “Imagination is the highest kite one can fly.”

Erica Jong: “And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.”

Colette: “You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.”

Julia Child: “Life itself is the proper binge.”

Emily Dickinson: “To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.”

Agatha Christie: “I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”

From A.A. Milne:

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” Winnie the Pooh

“Love is taking a few steps backward, maybe even more . . . to give way to the happiness of the person you love.” Winnie the Pooh

“Before beginning a Hunt, it is wise to ask someone what you are looking for before you begin looking for it.” Winnie the Pooh


“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” Winnie the Pooh

“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.” Winnie the Pooh

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”

From Anne Lamott:

“The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.” Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“It doesn’t matter how you pray–with your head bowed in silence, or crying out in grief, or dancing. Churches are good for prayer, but so are garages and cars and mountains and showers and dance floors.”

“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

“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.”

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

“The difference between you and God is that God doesn’t think He’s you. ”

“It’s good to do uncomfortable things. It’s weight training for life.”
Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

“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.” Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“I’m here to be me, which is taking a great deal longer than I had hoped.” Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

“Here are the two best prayers I know: ‘Help me, help me, help me’ and ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

A few more from Elizabeth Berg (all from Tapestry of Fortunes):

“Already I’ve seen that when you’re pulled away from your normal routine, it’s as though air and sunlight come into your brain and do a little housecleaning. A lifting up of what’s been practically rusted into place to reveal something else . . . .”

“. . . one of the hardest things in life is fessing up to what you want most . . . .”

“Hard evidence is overrated. The best things in life have no hard evidence to support them. Hope. Faith. Love.”

Double Doors

A little more C.S. Lewis (you had to know more Lewis was due):

“Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for? You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it–tantalising glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest–if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself–you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say ‘Here at last is the thing I was made for.’ . . . It is the secret signature of each soul. . . .”

From Kenneth Grahame: The Wind in the Willows:

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” 

Le Marais Poitevin
Le Marais Poitevin

“The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spellbound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.” 

“There he got out the luncheon-basket and packed a simple meal, in which, remembering the stranger’s origin and preferences, he took care to include a yard of long French bread, a sausage out of which the garlic sang, some cheese which lay down and cried, and a long-necked straw-covered flask wherein lay bottled sunshine shed and garnered on far Southern slopes.” 

“Toad, with no one to check his statements or to criticize in an unfriendly spirit, rather let himself go. Indeed, much that he related belonged more properly to the category of what-might-have-happened-had-I-only-thought-of-it-in-time-instead-of-ten-minutes-afterwards. Those are always the best and raciest adventures; and why should they not be truly ours, as much as the somewhat inadequate things that really come off?”

“It seemed a place where heroes could fitly feast after victory, where weary harvesters could line up in scores along the table and keep their Harvest Home with mirth and song, or where two or three friends of simple tastes could sit about as they pleased and eat and smoke and talk in comfort and contentment.” 

“He saw clearly how plain and simple – how narrow, even – it all was; but clearly, too, how much it all meant to him, and the special value of some such anchorage in one’s existence. He did not at all want to abandon the new life and its splendid spaces, to turn his back on sun and air and all they offered him and creep home and stay there; the upper world was all too strong, it called to him still, even down there, and he knew he must return to the larger stage. But it was good to think he had this to come back to, this place which was all his own, these things which were so glad to see him again and could always be counted upon for the same simple welcome.” 

From Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.:

“Everybody is a story. . . .Telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.”

“Real stories take time. We stopped telling stories when we started to lose that sort of time, pausing time, reflecting time, wondering time. Life rushes us along . . . . Most often, something unforeseen stops us and it is only then we have the time . . . . To know our own story and tell it. To listen to other people’s stories. To remember that the real world is made of just such stories.”

From Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach:

“It was a lesson I hoped to learn in the months ahead: how to stop rushing from place to place, always looking ahead to the next thing while the moment in front of me slipped away unnoticed.”

Full Moon Rising Over Lake Sunapee
Full Moon Rising Over Lake Sunapee

William Wordsworth: “A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.”

Sunset on Sunapee Cropped

Anne Morrow Lindbergh: “I have been overcome by the beauty and richness of our life together, those early mornings setting out, those evenings gleaming with rivers and lakes below us, still holding the last light.”

Catherine of Siena: “It’s heaven all the way to heaven, and it’s hell all the way to hell!”

C.S. Lewis: “If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”Sunset Sails

Saint Augustine: “Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.” 

One thought on “Quotes”

  1. Sunny, Just wanted you to know how proud I am of you and your outlook. Thanks so much for sharing!

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