"Giving is a generative act. When you give of yourself, something new comes into being. Two people, who moments before were trapped in separate worlds of private cares, suddenly meet each other over a simple act of sharing; warmth, even joy, is created. The world expands, a bit of goodness is brought forth, and a small miracle occurs.
"You must never underestimate this miracle. Too many good people think they have to become Mother Teresa or Albert Schweitzer, or even Santa Claus, and perform great acts if they are to be givers. They don't see the simple openings of the heart that can be practiced anywhere with almost anyone.
"Try it for yourself. Do it simply if your like. Say hello to someone everybody ignores. Go to a neighbor's house and offer to cut the lawn. Stop and help someone with a flat tire.
"Or stretch yourself a little bit. Buy a bouquet of flowers and take it to a nursing home. Take ten dollars out of your pocket and give it to someone on the street. Do it with a smile and a lilt in your step. No pity, no hushed tones of holy generosity. Just give it, smile, and walk away.
"Little by little, you will start to understand the miracle. You will start to see into the unprotected human heart, to see the honest smiles of human happiness, and you will be able to see humanity in places you never noticed it before. Slowly, instinctively, you will start to feel what is common among us, not what separates and differentiates us.
"Before long you will discover that we have the power to create joy and happiness by our simplest acts of caring and compassion. You will see that we have the power to unlock the goodness in other people's heart by sharing the goodness in ours."
— Letters to My Son: Reflections on Becoming a Man
A World Alive With Holy Moments
"We must never forget that the mindful practice of daily affairs is also a path into the realm of the spirit. The Japanese have long known this, and hallowed the ordinary moments of life by elevating them into art. The Native Americans have also understood this, and consecrated everyday actions by surrounding them with ceremony and prayer.
"But ours is a transient life, lived on the run, with an endless sense of process, of movement, of chasing the future. We seldom pause to shine a light upon the ordinary moments, to hallow them with our own attentiveness, to honor them with gentle caring. They pass unnoticed, lost in the ongoing rush of time.
"Yet it just such a hallowing that our lives require. We need to find ways to lift the moments of our daily lives — to celebrate and consecrate the ordinary, to allow the light of spiritual awareness to illuminate our days.
"For though we may not live a holy life, we live in a world alive with holy moments. We need only take the time to bring these moments into the light."
— Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life
"We need to find the hidden corners of our lives where we have not forgiven ourselves — for who we are, for who we are not. And it is not always easy. Sometimes we have to dig through tragic emotional wreckage. Sometimes we have to rip open scars we think have long been healed. Sometimes we have to tear down beautifully crafted psychological edifices. But to live with a pure heart and open spirit, we must have the courage to face these challenges."
— Calm Surrender: Walking the Hard Road of Forgiveness
A Cultural Memory that Rubs
"I have never met an Indian person who didn't somewhere deep inside struggle with anger and sadness at what happened to their people, and I have never met an honest and aware non-Indian person in America who didn't somewhere deep inside struggle with guilt about what we as a culture have done to the people who inhabited this continent before us. We can like each other, hate each other, feel pity for each other, love each other, But always, somewhere beneath the surface of our personal encounters, this cultural memory is rumbling."
— Neither Wolf Nor Dog
"The earth is slow. It sheds its winter sleep gruffly, like a bear shaking off the night.
"Not so the sky. Ever alive to nuance, it waits in harpstring readiness for every harbinger of change.
"The first to notice are the birds. Their song has brightness — a music played upon the light. A month ago, if they called at all, it was a lonely sound against the dark. There is excitement now, like a child breathless to reveal a secret.
"It is movement we feel. The birdsong moves along the wind. Beneath our feet an ancient rumbling struggles to be heard, with springs and rivulets, and rocks releasing their icy grip upon the ground. One by one, we free ourselves from the common stillness. Something new will be born."
— A Haunting Reverence: Meditations on a Northern Land
The Magic of Saint Francis
"The magic of Francis is that his holiness always felt like fresh love. He would burst into song in the middle of a public square; he spoke with birds and fishes; he picked up worms and carried them to the side of the road to keep them from being crushed underfoot.
"Everything on earth and in the heavens — the stars, the animals, the sun and moon — was his brother and sister. He felt connected to all living things, and nothing, whether a tree or a pool of water or a leper or a wild beast in the woods, was too insignificant for his concern. He danced through the world embracing everything he saw.
"How close this is to the innocent joy of love, and how much it warms the hearts of all of us who have known a first love's blessing. Like the old women hobbling across the piazza of Santa Croce and glancing at the young lovers, we cannot help but smile when we are in the presence of Francis's joyous and loving faith."
— Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace: Living the Spirit of the Prayer of Saint Francis