|Kathleen Norris Quotes
Kathleen Norris quotes from her book
entitled, Amazing Grace
To say "yes" is to make a leap of faith, to risk oneself in a
new world and often scary relationship.
A vocabulary of faith begins. No matter what the circumstances
of our upbringing, our capacity for truest, allegiance, and
confidence is badly battered in the everyday process
of growing up.
We go through a continual process of learning and relearning
what it means to love God, my neighbor and myself.
For reasons I did not comprehend, church seemed a place I needed
to be. But in order to inhabit it, to claim it as mine,
I had to rebuild my religious vocabulary. The words had
to become real to me.
I did not think it was comfort I was seeking or comfort that I'd
found in being a part of the church. But I can say this religion
has saved my life, saved my marriage. So it's not comfort that I'm
talking about but salvation.
Just as a poem is not made out of ideas but of words, faith
does not conform itself to ideology but to experience.
I find that the long struggle to sort out a genuine Christian
vocabulary has made me much more wary of religious
language that strikes a false note--the narcissistic babble
that masks itself as spirituality, the conventional jargon of
evangelism, which can narrow all of Christendom down to
"Jesus and me," and preach gusts of sermon-speak.
Marcus Borg, theologian, said, "Becoming and being Christian is like
learning another language--namely the language of the Bible and tradition."
Worshipping and not lectures have been the primary means by
which my faith has been realized. I am a part of a worshipping
community. I have developed a relationship with their vocabulary.
Our words are wiser than we are.
Eschatology: An acquaintance of mine, a brilliant young scholar,
was stricken with cancer, and over the course of several years came close
to dying three times. But after extensive treatment, came a
welcome remission. Her prognosis was uncertain, but she
was again able to teach and to write. "I'd never want to go back.
Because now I know what each morning means, and I am so grateful
just to be alive. It has been such a blessing!" That's eschatology.
"There is that which is called an "awakening" in the church,
and I know of no choicer ecstasy than to see Mrs. Sweetser
roll out in crape every morning, I suppose to intimidate antichrist...."
The tendency is that Christians have always identified the Antichrist with
their personal enemies, or with those in power whom they have reason to
The pastor said something that will always remain with me:
"Each one of us acts as an Antichrist--whenever we hear the
gospel and do not do it."
Making silence liberates the imagination.
"It's like we're waiting for something--it's scary."
"Strength is as slow and silent as a tree."
"Silence is me sleeping waiting to wake up."
"Silence is a tree spreading its branches to the sun."
"Silence is spiders spinning their webs, it's like a silkworm
making its silk. Lord, help me to know when to be silent."
"Silence reminds me to take my soul with me wherever I go."
Inheritance: Blessing and Curse
Redeem the bad, and turn it into something good. And I must start with my
roots, with where I have been placed in my family...when something feels like
a curse, it is tempting to simply toss it out.
In order to have an adult faith, most of us have to outgrow and unlearn much
of what we were taught about religion. Growing up doesn't necessarily mean
rejecting the religion of our ancestors. It is a balancing act: to recognize the
blessings. The temptation is simply to reject what we can't handle. But this
means being stuck in a perpetual adolescence, a perpetual seeking for
something, anything, that doesn't lead us back to where we came from.
Converting a painful inheritance into something good requires all the
discernment we can muster, both from what is within us, and what we can
glean from mentors.