I don't know Who -or What- put the question, I don't know when it was put. I don't even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone -or Something- and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in selfsurrender, had a goal. ... As I continued along the Way, I learned, step by step, word by word, that behind every saying in the Gospels stands one man and one man's experience. Also behind the prayer that the cup might pass from him and his promise to drink it. Also behind each of the words from the Cross.
Maturity: Among other things, the unclouded happiness of the child at play who takes it for granted that he is at one with his playmates.
Never, "for the sake of peace and quiet," deny your own experience or convictions. The only kind of dignity which is genuine is that which is not diminished by the indifference of others. Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for. Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was.
God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illuminated by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.
What gives life its value you can find ... and lose. But never possess. This holds good above all for "the Truth about Life."
It is now, in this very moment, that I can and must pay for all that I have received. The past and its load of debt are balanced against the present. And on the future, I have no claim.
Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment.
You will know life and be acknowledged by it according to your degree of transparency, your capacity, that is, to vanish as an end, and remain purely as a means.
It is not we who seek the Way,
but the Way which seeks us.
That is why you are faithful to it,
even while you stand waiting,
so long as you are prepared,
and act the moment you are
confronted by its demands.
The responsibility for our mistakes is ours, but not the credit for our achievements. Man's freedom is a freedom to betray God. God may love us, yes, but our response is voluntary.
The anguish of loneliness brings blasts from the storm center of death: only that can be really yours which is another's for only what you have given, be it only in the gratitude of acceptance, is salvaged from the nothing which some day will have been your life.
I am being driven forward
Into an unknown land.
The pass grows steeper,
The air colder and sharper.
A wind from my unknown goal
Stirs the strings
Still the question:
Shall I ever get there?
There where life resounds,
A clear pure note
In the silence.
Your cravings as a human animal do not become a prayer just because it is God whom you ask to attend to them.
Acts of violence - Whether on a large or a small scale, the bitter paradox: the meaningfulness of death - and the meaninglessness of killing.
Your position never gives you the right to command. It only imposes on you the duty of so living your life that others can receive your orders without being humiliated.
The madman shouted in the market place. No one stopped to answer him. Thus it was confirmed that his thesis was incontrovertible.
There is a pride of faith, more unforgiveable and dangerous than the pride of the intellect. It reveals a split personality in which faith is "observed" and appraised, thus negating that unity born of a dying-unto-self, which is the definition of faith. To "value" faith is to turn it into a metaphysical magic, the advantages of which ought to be reserved for a spiritual elite.
Forgiveness breaks the chain of causality because he who forgives you -- out of love -- takes upon himself the consequences of what you have done. Forgiveness, therefore, always entails a sacrifice.
He who has surrendered himself to it knows that the Way ends on the Cross -- even when it is leading him through the jubilation of Gennesaret or the triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.
It whispers: all is waiting here,
Kept safe for thee, year after year,
Beautiful songs in thousands;
Where hast thou been, where, where?
How proper it is that Christmas should follow Advent. For him who looks toward the future, the manger is situated on Golgotha, and the cross has already been raised in Bethlehem.
Excerpts from 'Markings'
(Published posthumously in 1963 in Swedish as Vägmärken.)
This work he called "A sort of white book concerning my negotiations with myself -- and with God."
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