|Strength in Words
Words of Inspiration
There have been many people who have inspired and helped me throughout the years with words of wisdom and encouragement.
For those moments when you think so much has been taken away...when you feel that there is nothing left to hang on to:
They took away what should have been my eyes
But I remembered Milton’s Paradise.
They took away what should have been my ears,
Beethoven came and wiped away my tears.
They took away what should have been my tongue,
But I had talked with God when I was young.
He would not let them take away my soul…
Possessing that, I still possess the whole.
Kalidasa, a Hindu poet from the fourth century BC.
The Exhortation of the Dawn
Look to this day, for it is life, the very life of life.
in its brief course lie all the verities
and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendor of beauty;
For yesterday is but a dream,
and tomorrow is only a vision;
But today, well lived, makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness
and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.
Mother Teresa: Pat told me of how, years ago, he was walking in lower Manhattan on a street in the Bowery. As he looked up he saw Mother Teresa. He said it struck him that this living saint, renowned throughout the world, was alone—a simple woman walking without an entourage. Not wanting to intrude or bother her, Pat smiled as she passed and simply said, “Thank you Mother for all you have done…” She stopped and smiled, “…let's both thank God for all He has done.”
What follows is actually a part of a prayer that Pat gave me years ago. It has given me strength when I have felt weak...for those times when we meet with adversity, when we feel we are doing our best and yet are met with the misunderstanding of others.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of being selfish with ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
The good you do today will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have and it may never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them.
From a prayer by Mother Theresa on the wall
of her Home for Children in Calcutta, India
And finally….the quotations I used in Released to the Angels. I chose them because they reflect what I believe, and because they continue to be a source of strength and faith.
The Gift of Remembering:
Sometimes, when you’re faced with sickness and great loss, your mind seeks relief. At those times, aware of pain and sadness, I often found comfort in the following quote. It is the positive power of our minds to heal, to remember the good…so that we may endure the bad.
“God granted us memory so that we may have roses in December.”
This quote is attributed to J.M. Barrie (1860-1937) taken from his Rectorial Address entitled “Courage”, May 2, 1922.
The Gift of Simplicity:
During our long journey together, I often wondered—if we had known years ago that Pat would become sick, that Alzheimer’s would destroy, that our lives would be changed forever….would we have done anything differently? A hard question to ponder, an even harder one to answer.
I came to the conclusion that, with or without Alzheimer’s, we would have still found the greatest value in the simple things we did, the quiet times we shared. I love the following quotation because it expresses that belief:
“If I knew that tomorrow the world would fall to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
Sometimes inaccurately attributed to Martin Luther King Jr., this quote actually comes from Martin Luther, written in the seventeenth century. In the town of Eisenach, Germany, in front of the Martin-Luther-Gymnasium (gymnasium being the German word for ‘high school’) there is a stone engraved with Luther’s quote. He attended this school as a teenager (years later Sebastian Bach would also attend this school). The quotation came about under the following circumstances; someone once asked Martin Luther, “If you knew that tomorrow the world would be destroyed, would you sound the tympani, or would you hide your head in sand?”… to which Martin Luther replied with the above quotation (in his native tongue, German): "Wenn ich wüsste, dass morgen der jüngste Tag wäre, würde ich heute noch ein Apfelbäumchen pflanzen."
The Gift of Living in the Now
Alzheimer’s has a way of reducing the complicated to the simple, the future to the present. When you cherish moments of the past and embrace the joys of what you now can share, you find it easier to put aside the fear of what will happen in the future.
“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.”
I am grateful for the strength found in this quote by William Allen White, an American journalist, 1868-1944.
The Gift of Joy
In this life it is inevitable that we experience sadness. But while sadness and sometimes despair are a part of life, it isn’t inevitable that these feelings determine how we live. If we are open to joy, that joy has a better chance of coming through despite difficult times.
“…joy can spring like a flower, even from the cliffs of despair.”
It is at the heart of my belief. This beautiful quotation is credited to Anne Morrow Lindbergh, noted writer and aviation pioneer (1906-2001). In the process of publication, I received a beautiful card from her son, Reeve Lindbergh, expressing encouragement and confidence that “in choosing to [share your book], others will take comfort from this effort.”