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5 Favorite Excerpts from 5 Favorite Books

“But she had the German penchant for telling people off, and she died alone at 81, having scolded away all her friends.”

Because I am of Austrian/German heritage, I never forgot these words I read in William Zinsser’s book, On Writing Well.

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” —Frederick Buechner.

I also never forgot this quote about vocation, from A Sacred Journey.

“And he sang to them, now in the elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.”—J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Pain and delight flowing together. This reminds me a little of C.S. Lewis and his great northern feeling, a desire that was better than joy.

“Before I knew what I desired, the desire itself was gone, the whole glimpse… withdrawn, the world turned commonplace again, or only stirred by a longing for the longing that had just ceased… In a sense the central story of my life is about nothing else… The quality common to the three experiences… is that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy.”—C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

Yes, at a very early age, C.S. Lewis taught me that I was not the only one who preferred longings to the having of anything. He was the first person who let me label them “joy.”

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”—C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

This reminds me of the voyage Puddleglum took with the children in The Silver Chair, where they were in darkness so long they forgot what the sun was like, and yet Puddleglum, the hero, held on to his memories, however distant, and stood by Aslan.

It was beautiful words like this by Lewis that shaped my faith in my early years.

What are your favorite quotes, books and authors?

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