November 6, 2009

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Be grateful for all that is and all that will be in life

Shirley Vogler MeisterFor years, I have loved quotations. In my columns and whenever I presented a writing or poetry program, I often used them, mostly because I enjoy introducing the thoughts of other writers and poets.

Once, someone in an audience asked me if I thought that someday I would be quoted by someone else.

I laughed and said, “Not very likely!”

But I was wrong because I have heard or read many of my words repeated. Yet I cannot spontaneously recall one of them.

This is not false modesty, but rather my penchant for always focusing on what is currently in progress.

In fact, I’m usually surprised when someone remembers a column or a poem that I have written.

As for the actual process of writing, usually ideas for my work come spontaneously and at unexpected times. At other times I “sit on an idea” for years before processing my thoughts tangibly.

However, like most writers, I always know in my heart when a current or long-ago experience must be written down—now via a computer, of course.

Recently, while cleaning off shelves in my computer room, I came across a small stack of quotations, some written on Post-It Notes.

The first quotation was a Scripture passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: “Do all things without murmurings and disputing” (Phil 2:13).

For a long time, while fighting a neurological problem during already very challenging years, I often meditated on that Scripture passage in prayer. It takes courage to face difficult challenges. In comparison, cleaning shelves is a breeze!

Another quotation came from Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird: “Courage is when you know you’re licked, but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.”

I am certain that everyone can relate to this since challenges in life are relentless.

I also found this quotation from Russian author Leo Tolstoy: “Music is the shorthand of emotion.”

For a long time, I carefully listened to an abundance of music in order to mask or soften the pain or turmoil that I was experiencing—and it “soothed the savage beast” of illness within me.

Also, although I forgot to document the following quotation, this one has been helpful: “Our happiness comes in direct proportion to our gratitude.”

Helen Keller, who was blind and deaf, validated that idea in this way: “Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within. It is what we see and touch or that which others do for us which makes us happy. It is that which we think and feel and do, first for the other fellow and then for ourselves.”

I found another quotation on a Quaker calendar: “For all that has been—thanks! For all that shall be—yes.” It was attributed to Dag Hammarskjöld, the secretary general of the United Nations from 1953-61.

Acceptance and gratitude are a formidable team.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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