Positive Ions

Sometimes it’s fancy cooking I enjoy; sometimes it’s chicken pot pies and applesauce.

Sometimes I love my acoustic music that expresses my feelings in words I can understand; sometimes my very own Pandora station is just whiny.

Sometimes I do good of eating by texture; sometimes white chocolate is all I can taste.

Sometimes I am full of joy and energy, taking delight in the experience of life; sometimes, when I am too invisible, I just want to hit the delete button.

It never works.

After a weekend with the family, including six kiddos, all I needed after a long day of driving and a late night arrive home was some time to curl up in my favorite chair with a favorite book… with no processors on my head and the unconditional love of puppies keeping me warm.

I dove into Rilke (the poet, not the dog), which my blog stalkers know by the quote-ey emails that hit their inboxes so late.

I <3 Rilke, and always have.

But the quote that really punched me in the gut last night was this one, which I did not share but spent the day pondering:

“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”

This was so good for me to read!  I needed these words!

These Rilke words are familiar friends, but today I wrestled them to the ground, devouring them like I had never known them before.  It was a passionate battle, but sometimes a thunderstorm is needed to clear the air… and positive ions are restorative.

Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you.

This has been a big part of my change.  The slowing down, the spending time at home, the being alone, the staying single long enough to meet me.  I know there are moments of my days, in this life of solitude, that many wives and mothers would give most anything to experience.  I truly treasure my times of study and pondering and meditation that I have access to as a woman without spouse or children in the home, and I know that I am accountable for this time and space and the wise stewardship of it.

But it is also very difficult, and it does also cause pain. Lonely is lonely, no mater how noble you are about it.  Self-reliance and self-sufficiency take on a whole new meaning and a whole new urgency.  The temptation to hide and isolate because you can, which is not the same as resting or home-ing, easily overpowers the choice to go out and give time and energy to others.

It is an illusion of an island, reinforced by closed blinds and locked doors that become prison walls without visitors, laughter, or fresh air.

Like the repentance work of the soul, it is a constant effort to fight those clouds.  Energy and will must be focused into forcing out the cobwebs of mood,  and it requires extensive motivation to breathe life into this space rather than letting it drain away.  It is hard work to keep out the distractions of noise, work, and entertainment in order to protect the peace and light of the Temple brought home here to me.

For those who are near you are far away…

This makes me think of the CS Lewis comment:

“creatures grow further apart as they increase in perfection. Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good.”

This is how “holy” means “set apart”.  Something, or someone, is holy because it is very, ripe.  It is so shiny that it is different than those to which you could compare.  Holy is not just different than “evil”; it is also somehow more than just mere “good”.

There is a difference between a licensed therapist, and someone who has never had any training.  But there is also a different between licensed therapists and really good (skilled) licensed therapists.

It is also the distance you feel when you make progress in an area that your loved ones have not, or, conversely, when your loved ones have made progress without you.  Either way it is the gap of canyons, and one can either fall into the pit or do the work to learn.  I think it is ultimately designed to push us forward, but in the first moment of recognition it feels like teetering on the edge.

and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast….

This is as it should be, though there is a level of grief anytime things change from what they were into something new.  But as we grow, improve, progress in life, we do take up more space.  There is more of us than there was before.

There is a degree of solitude required for growing internally, for depth-ness being created.  And solitude requires space, so a specific and purposeful solitude requires a great deal of space and time “set apart” from the world around us.

be happy about your growth,

Do not get stuck in the teetering-on-the-edge.  The cavern is vast, but it is only a result of the moving of mountains; it is not for you to fall in.

This is the not-looking-back as Lot’s wife did; it is the metaphor of the little bird hatching from its egg.  The womb is always safe and nourishing, but you must at some point grow enough to move beyond it.

I learned this even when I was kicked out of the Temple.  I wasn’t actually kicked out of the Temple, but I mean to say that I have a full-time job, and part-time work, and my mission, and my newly-healing-family.  I cannot do all of those things, much less do them well, if I am at the Temple every single time it is open.  Going to the Temple is an important part of my life, of course, but it is only a piece. And part of going to the Temple is then leaving, and taking that Light with me.

I learned from President Kimball that I cannot “return and report” if I do not “go and do”.

I would never have become a therapist if only stayed in the classroom.

in which of course you can’t take anyone with you,

This one is maybe the hardest for me.

I want people to see the things I see.

I want people to know the things I know.

I am hungry to know and see, and I want people to be as hungry as me.

Many times, they are not.

Maybe because they are already ahead of me, or maybe because they are just starting.  We are in different places, or on different paths.  But I cannot drag people along with me.

The real reason, of course, is because each journey is an individual one, unique to each person.  Your life is designed especially for you, to help you learn what you are here to learn, to discover what you are here to discover, to do what you are here to do.  This life, your bounds of time and space (being alive, now, and here), has a purpose just especially for you.

As does my life for me.

So I can’t make my life lessons the same life lessons for someone else.  I can’t drag them kicking and screaming along my path, because it is not their path.

Not only is my path not their path, but living life is an individual responsibility.  I cannot live life for someone else no more than someone else can live life for me.  This is my life to live, and yours is your life to live.  It just is.

There may be many I can meet there, but I can take no one with me along the way.  There may be many whose path lie very near mine, but I still must walk my own path and they must walk theirs.

and be gentle with those who stay behind;

This makes me think of President Uchtdorf at the last General Conference (October 2010), in his “You are my Hands” talk when he said, “we condemn too quickly and with too little compassion.”

Because I can only walk my own journey, I have no right to condemn the journey of another.  I do have the responsibility to help point the way toward the destination of love and peace which we share.  But I must be gentle with those at their own pace, in their own process, making their own effort… just as so many have been patient and gentle with me along the way.

be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts

Sometimes, I am my own mess.

Sometimes, I talk myself in circles.

Sometimes, I have thrown my own self for a loop that takes some untangling.

I don’t need to dump my mess on those overwhelmed with their own stuff.

and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend.

This makes me think of when I was little, and I would try to cheer up my brother by singing songs to him.  When he was little, that worked.  When he was a teenager, that was no longer helpful.  He just needed to feel what he was feeling, and did not need distraction from it.  He was old enough, grown enough, to deal with life even when it was hard.  He had a different life skill set than I had.  And that was okay.

However, this made my meager attempts at cheer more annoying that helpful.

And that’s why we poke holes in a chicken pot pie before heating it up.

Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them,

This is the true meaning of tolerance.

Tolerance does not mean approving of the behaviors of others, nor does it mean putting up with behaviors with which you do not agree.  Tolerance is not a permissive attitude, or not being permitted to suggest positive change.

Tolerance is meeting someone on common ground to develop mutual understanding and love.

We are all human, and our experience on planet earth unites us.  We all have different eyes through which we see, but we do see the same sun and the same grass.  We can stand together on that grass to share how warm the sun feels in a summer breeze.

which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again;

This is good boundaries.

I am uniquely Emily, and my role in life is just being me.

Part of being me is caring for myself, including protecting who I am.

Even as I grow and change, I learn what is good for me and what is not, what is life-giving and strengthening and what is destructive.  Letting the good things in while keeping the bad out is good boundaries.

Good boundaries don’t change as I grow; rather, good boundaries help provide the structure and framework in which I am able to grow.

when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own

I don’t know anything about fashion shows, but when my friend’s dress shop provided the dresses for a local high school event… I loved life in a way not my own by learning really quickly how to pin dresses, bag dresses, and hang dresses.

I don’t have cable or watch TV at my house, but when my young friend had Spring Break, I loved life in a way not my own by having a Star Wars marathon with him.

There are no children at my house, but when I visit my brother I love life in a way not my own by enjoying the flexibility, spontaneity, and chaos that comes from six kids in a family.

All of it was a good time!  But it was loving life in a way that is not my own.  In the same way, I have friends who meet me where I am and love life in a way not their own.  Maybe they endure long blogs, sporadic postings, crazy working hours, or rambling speeches!

and be indulgent toward those who are growing old,

One of the things I love most about our church is that it has a specific plan and purpose for those who are growing old.  Not just a plan that takes care of them or provides for them, but also that gives them function and purpose and meaning as a very cherished and honored role in our community.  It seems this is often lost in western society, and I love that we are trying to protect it and continue it.

However, being “indulgent” toward those who are growing old requires more benevolence than just honoring their place in our lives.  It is more than just being grateful to them for our own existence.  It is more than being respectful of the place they hold, for the roles they played in our lives.

To be indulgent is to spoil them, cherish them, fill them to overflowing with love and service.  Being indulgent is to make sure they have what they want, not just what they need.  Being indulgent is providing more than what is required for comfort.  It is a letting them do things their way, at their pace, when they are good and ready.

To indulge those growing old takes far more compassion and effort than just respecting the elderly.

who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust….

Let other people feel what they feel; let them be in the space they are in.  If they are willing, you can enter that space.  If they let you, you can light a candle.  But not everyone has developed the same strengths and skills as you, just as you have not developed the same strengths and skills as they have.

and don’t expect any understanding;

This is a soul-depth kind of understanding.

Other people cannot understand exactly your journey because it is your own.

but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance,

This is so Old Testament!  I love it!  Inheritances do not move from tribe to tribe, but are passed down within the tribe.  It was not enough to be born within the covenant of Abraham, but the children of Israel also had to live in such a way as to demonstrate they were  Abraham’s children.  Birthright is more than genetics.

In the same way, good boundaries mean living in a way true to who you are, while still interacting with the world in which you live.  We are at times called to solitude; we are not called to isolated monasticism.  We are called to love and serve those on planet Earth alongside us, in our lives every day, in our paths for moments or on parallel paths next to us.

Above all, there is love.  Love is bigger than everything.

Yet, even while being bigger than everything, Love still has a context, a structure, and a purpose.  That’s what helps it flow from noun to verb.  The pre-Frank Sinatra song said this:

Love is a many-splendored thing,
It’s the April rose that only grows in the early spring,
Love is nature’s way of giving a reason to be living,
The golden crown that makes a man a king.

Love is more than a feeling, and more than a motivation.  “Love” perverted can be one of the most dark and dangerous forces experienced, and Love cherished can be one of the most powerful and cleansing forces there is.

Sometimes love is hard work, because it must be demonstrated more than declared.

The purest love will honor the bounds in which it thrives, rather than selfishly seeking to obtain.  Love is not a possession; it is not ownership.

Love is life-giving and strengthening.  Love is creating.  Love is healing. Love is becoming.

and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”

This made me cry when I read it the other night.

It resonates in our child-hearts, a love so pure and strong and blessing-ish as to be “enough” that we can exist without having to step outside of it.

Little toddlers wander off, and then back to their mothers.  Wander, back, wander, back.  They are like little ping-pong balls, and this is what they do because they are learning that they exist as a separate and distinct entity.  They can leave their mothers, and still exist as a person.

This lesson is so hard, though we overlook it and pretend we are tough, but mother-self relationships are so hard that there is not one country in the world with a fairytale that includes a mother.  Go ahead, try and find one.  There isn’t one.  Always, the mother has died or dies, has gone away, or there is a step-mother.   There is never a mother.

Because mother-relationships are that hard, for everybody.

This is not because mothers have failed, but because they are learning, too.  And just as they learn how best to care for us, we are learning how best to survive without them.  So it’s a conflict by design, and requires a becoming that is enough growth to demand a vast space around you.   If both mother and child do this, then they can co-exist together without being written out of the story.

This is the embrace of the prodigal son and his father.  The prodigal son (or daughter, in my case) has to do the work of coming home again.  But the parent – the parent was there waiting all along.  The father did not just welcome the son home, he saw him from a long way off!  He was already expecting, preparing for, waiting, hoping, and ready for the son to return home.

This is the embrace of the atonement, the at-one-ment, that welcomes us back into the presence of our heavenly parents… or earthly parents, if we need the practice.

But it is very hard work.

It’s the kind of work that prepares a person for marriage.

And like a marriage, it depends on both people doing that work.

But to think for a moment, that there is a love greater even than a mother’s love, or a higher kind of parent-love, so much that not only is it “enough” – enough to provide and protect as parents do – but I cannot go outside of it.

I can fight against it like a screaming toddler.  I can rebel against it like an adolescent.  I can ignore it like a passive-aggressive adult.

But that Love is still there, waiting, watching, expecting.

I still have to deal with my own consequences, still have to go through the process of learning, still have to make that long walk home.

But that Love is there, waiting, watching, expecting.

Simple and Quiet Words

“Do not assume that she who seeks to comfort you now, lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. Her life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, she would never have been able to find these words.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

All the Ones He Made Could Have Their Turn

“And isn’t the whole world yours? For how often you set it on fire with your love and saw it blaze and burn up and secretly replaced it with another world while everyone slept. You felt in such complete harmony with God, when every morning you asked him for a new earth, so that all the ones he had made could have their turn. You thought it would be shabby to save them and repair them; you used them up and held out your hands, again and again, for more world. For your love was equal to everything.”


~ Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

I am Learning to See

“I am learning to see. I don’t know why it is, but everything enters me more deeply and doesn’t stop where it once used to. I have an interior that I never knew of… What’s the use of telling someone that I am changing? If I’m changing, I am no longer who I was; and if I am something else, it’s obvious that I have no acquaintances. And I can’t possibly write to strangers.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Rilke Poem

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?


by Rainer Maria Rilke

Mending Walls, by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,

And spills the upper boulders in the sun;

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The work of hunters is another thing:

I have come after them and made repair

Where they have left not one stone on a stone,

But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,

To please the yelping dogs.  The gaps I mean,

No one has seen them made or heard them made,

But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again.

We keep the wall between us as we go.

To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

And some are loaves and some so nearly balls

We have to use a spell to make them balance:

‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’

We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,

One on a side.  It comes to little more:

There where it is we do not need the wall:

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

‘Why do they make good neighbors?  Isn’t it

Where there are cows?  But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offense.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That wants it down.’  I could say ‘Elves’ to him,

But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather

He said it for himself.  I see him there

Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top

In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me,

Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

He will not go behind his father’s saying,

And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’


By Robert Frost


Whom will you cry to, heart? More and more lonely,
your path struggles on through incomprehensible
mankind. All the more futile perhaps
for keeping to its direction,
keeping on toward the future,
toward what has been lost.

Once. You lamented? What was it? A fallen berry
of jubilation, unripe.
But now the whole tree of my jubilation
is breaking, in the storm it is breaking, my slow
tree of joy.
Loveliest in my invisible
landscape, you that made me more known
to the invisible angels.

By Rainer Maria Rilke
(Translated by Stephen Mitchell)

Things that are NOT awesome.

When I got home tonight, I tried to set my purse and things on the kitchen counter, but instead of any grace or decorum, empty water bottles scattered everywhere.  I almost cried, and I would have excepting I knew I would tattle on myself blogging, so I pretended I was tough.  This was how my evening was, like empty water bottles flying everywhere, just so there is one more thing for me to chase down and pick up.

Here is my list of things that are NOT awesome…

Seeing the gorgeous sunshine day from an office window instead of from the river.

But you have a marvelous office window, and spent the evening driving from house to house
So you still got to experience the sunshine, even if little moments.
Little moments are the rays of hope.

Getting home from work at 9pm.

But you have a house to come home to, and you worked hard for that house.
And you are working hard so you can have the weekend off.
And there are puppies to greet you, and they make you laugh.

Spending money on things like toilet paper.

Toilet paper is better than leaves.  Just saying.

Realizing you are paying more than $3 for gas.

At least you are able to pay it.
Transportation is so easy here, so accessible, and you try hard to be careful and organized with all the driving your job requires.

Realizing you are old enough to remember pay 85 cents for gas when you got your license.

Your age is starting to show, with wrinkles on your face and grey hairs peeking through.
You earned these wrinkles, in the tears of youth.
Each grey hair is a mark of survival, a scar of wisdom you will wear proudly.

Having hair that looks like a poodle.

Poodle hair beats no hair, and is better than chia pet hair.
The Year of Ugly is nearly complete, and in the warmth of the sun you feel your sackcloth and ashes melt away like seeds of the new beginnings now unfolding.

Catching the real poodle chewing up the carpet.

It isn’t his fault, not really.  Maybe puppies will be better behaved if you learn that days are for play, not only work, and that nights are for rest, not only sleep.  Puppies are a protective factor against the children that would have been otherwise neglected.  Learn to take care of you, and you will learn to take care of puppies.  Learn to take care of puppies, and you will learn to love.

The bottom falling out of your grocery sack.

Such a symbol of doing too much, carrying too much, of not asking for help.
Slow down.  Take your time.  Be gentle with yourself.  Ask for help.

Missing your friends.

Missing them means you love them, no matter how independent and tough you pretend to be.
Your heart is soft because friendship is valuable.
Treasure it.  Find them.  Love them.

Being alone.

You are not destroying others lives or distracting from your own, and you have seen the miracles created from this non-destruction, from this loving a life enough not to ruin it.  It has been worth it to do things differently.  This is good, and as it should be.  You needed time alone.  You needed time to heal.  You needed time to be.  You needed time to become.

Having a job full of terrible secrets you aren’t allowed to tell anyone.

You love your job, and you know better than to hang on to the negative aspects of it.  Go run, go play, go dance.  Sing it away, pray it away, dig in the soil until it is all buried and new life is cropping up.

Spending all day everyday watching other people self-destruct.

Most people are doing the best they can with what they know.  Learn from them, and let them learn from you.  They have the right to agency, just as much as you do, and it is learning to exercise agency appropriately that will lead them to truth and healing, just as it did for you.


Grief hurts because there is meaning.  The tears of grief are warm.


All things physical are also spiritual.  Letting stuff eat away at you destroys who you are.  Let it go, forgive, and love.  Choose peace.

And THAT is why I write, and why I blog.

I think maybe I should quit asking questions that I don’t want the answers to!

That is what I learned on this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day that was kind of awesome after all.

To Blog, or Not To Blog?

I have been studying the up-and-coming issue of therapeutic professionals being on social networking sites, such a facebook and blogs.

There are two issues at the forefront:

1.)  How the professional is using social networking in relation to patients, and

2.)  How the professional is using social networking in relation to themselves, but by doing so giving patients access to what they normally would not.

It’s a fascinating debate, on all sides.

There is a clear difference between the perspective of the young professionals, who grew up with the internet, and the older professionals who had the internet introduced into their career.

There is also a clear difference between the two arguments.

For example, the first has the continuum from professionals who refuse to participate in their patients’ online endeavors to those professionals who creep on their patients to check up on them.  I fall in the middle, in most cases, in that I do not mind patients sharing their personal sites if it is useful during a therapy session, but I do not have time to chase down patients after hours and do not think that is helpful.

The second argument has to do with how professionals use social networking sites themselves.  The continuum is, of course, from those who do not use them at all to those who put everything out there.  The middle of the continuum includes three groups: one group that utilizes social networking for professional networking only (to meet other professionals), one group that utilizes social networking only to promote their practice or business or field related topics, and one group that utilizes social networking for personal expression but limits access to their sites.

It’s good and important to consider these issues, as any of them could affect the precious relationship between therapist and client.

I feel that I have come a long way in learning about disclosure, developing specific boundaries, and improving my life skills in general.  This has been very public, as I blogged the whole journey.  That was important to me at the time, and I think it was important to those who learned with me along the way.  A big part of the population I was writing to needed that journey, and needed the experience of also learning along the way.

That’s one thing I liked about it, and one reason I was so open about some things.  I felt it was a way to share, a way to be an example – not just of the good things in life, but also how to deal with hard days, recover from losses, how to keep moving forward.  Not that I know so much, but people learned as I learned, even in their own lives.  In turn, they taught me.  In that way, it was helpful and productive for us all.

But also, the more I learned the less I needed to write.  I will always need to write, for writing is a part of me.  But my writing found other venues in speeches, presentations, books, talks, and journals.  Blogging was no longer the only source for me to express my writing.  This opening up of the writing-ness was good for the development of writing, and combined with a healthier Emily made blogging less of a necessity.  A hobby, which is fine, and an easy way to share with many, which is a fine thing.  So it is not that blogging was bad, or that I no longer enjoyed it, but it did take a significant shift.

But I also feel a responsibility to write, in some way.  It is a way to reach people, a way to share, a way to reflect and ponder and think and consider.  It develops tolerance and educates and celebrates.  But as this research points out, those good things are still positive influences that were not available before.

And of course, when boundaries are crossed or if terrible things were written, it would no longer be a positive influence.

And always, the first rule of therapeutic professionals in any field is “first cause no harm”.

So it really gives me a lot to think about, in this shifting world, as technology unfolds and is no longer exclusive.  A lot depends on the population with whom you work, and my “population” is very specific – two minority communities – which means they already have way more contact with me “in real life” and through related connections than what I would normally have with other patients.  So is utilizing social networking sites just a difference between “then and now”, or is it really a trend that needs taming?

I can write in other ways.

My few friends that do read the blog could still text me or email me, or we could go the old fashioned way and write letters.

And, with the busy days I am having, I would rather spend the real-life time with my friends themselves rather than blogging at them.

So is blogging and other social networking a way to connect with others in a busy world?

Or something that protects and pads that space between us?

I already gave up tweeting and those sites; I could tell early on that was a disaster waiting to happen.  It did make me sad because it was just such FUN.  But such instant access with little impulse control and no filter could easily make a mess of things.  I perhaps would be more “ready” for it now, but I don’t want to go there.

Facebook is the only social networking site I use, and right now I am required to keep it for my mission because I am one of the moderators for some of the church pages on Facebook.  I mostly just do status updates that are either silly, class Emily World, or blog updates that are public things anyway.  So for now, that is resolved, as it is, though people have to work really hard to go find the page and “like” it in order to get my updates.  I have found that few people work that hard on facebook, so it actually weeded out a lot of people by default.  So I feel like the Facebook issue is settled, for now.

But the blogging question remains, especially as my life becomes less and less blog-able.  I know that I will always want to write.  But these are interesting arguments to consider, both for and against blogging in a public setting.  There are still privacy options, like adding a security passcode to the page or requiring sign-ins or complicated things like that.  But there is also the option of just letting it go, which I think I never before could have considered – but now can, I think, for the first time.

It is not a question as a plea for “votes” to keep blogging, no do I mean to isolate my audience by bringing this issue up.  But it is a valid and important clinical question that is coming up, that some organizations may even pass regulations about that answer the question for me.  And always, the doing-no-harm is most, most, most important.   So.

To blog, or not to blog?  That is the question!

The Great Divorce

Just finished “The Great Divorce” by CS Lewis again… here are some quotes!

“… (the belief) that mere development or adjustment or refinement will somehow turn evil into good without our being called on for a final and total rejection of anything we should like to retain… this belief I take to be a disastrous error.  You cannot take all luggage with you on all journeys…”

“We live in a world where… every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork you must make a decision.”

“It does not move towards unity, but away from it and the creatures grow further apart as they increase in perfection.  Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good.”

“I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists in being put back on the right road.”

“I believe, to be sure, that any man who reaches Heaven will find that what he abandoned (even in plucking out his right eye) was precisely nothing: that the kernal of what he was really seeking even in his most depraved wishes will be there, beyond expectation, waiting for him…”

“nothing in the past can be altered.”

“They won’t like it at a all when we get there, and they’d really be much more comfortable at home.  It’s different for you and me.”

“Capitalism did not merely enslave the workers, it also vitiated taste and vulgarised intellect.”

“What’s the trouble with this place?  Not that people are quarrelsome – that’s only human nature and was always the same even on earth.  The trouble is they have no Needs.  You get everything you want (not very good quality, of course) just by imagining it.  That’s why it never costs any trouble to move to another street or build another house.  In other words, there’s no proper economic basis for any community life.  It’s scarcity that enables a society to exist.”

“What’s the sense of allowing all that riff-raff to float about here all day?  Look at them.  They’re not enjoying it.  They’d be far happier at home.  They don’t even know what to do.”

“Everything here is for the asking and nothing can be bought.”

“You weren’t a decent man and you didn’t do your best.  We none of us were and we none of us did.  Lord bless you, it doesn’t matter.  There is no need to go into it all now.”

“Do you really think there are no sins of intellect?… There is hide-bound prejudice, and intellectual dishonesty, and timidity, and stagnation… The beliefs are sincere in the sense that they do occur as psychological events in the man’s mind.  If that’s what you mean by sincerity they are sincere, and so were ours.  But errors which are sincere in that sense are not innocent.”

“There was a time when you asked questions because you wanted answers, and were glad when you had found them.  Become that child again: even now.”

“You’re going in the wrong direction.  It’s back there – to the mountains – you need to go.  You can lean on me all the way.  I can’t absolutely carry you, but you need have almost no weight on your own feet: and it will hurt less at every step.”

“What are we born for?  For infinite happiness… you can step out into it at any moment.”

“Don’t you remember on earth – there were things too hot to touch with your finger but you could drink them all right?  Shame is like that.  If you will accept it – if you will drink the cup to the bottom – you will find it very nourishing: but try to do anything else with it and it scalds.”

“It depends on the way ye’re using the words.  If they leave that grey town behind, it will not have been Hell.”

“ye cannot in your present state understand eternity.”

“Both processes begin even before death.  The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven.  The bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness.”

“Hell is a state of mind – ye never said a truer word.  And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own min d- is, in the end, Hell.  But Heaven is not a state of mind.  Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly.”

“There is always something they insist on keeping, even at the price of misery.  There is always something they prefer to joy – that is, to reality.”

“Every one of us lives only to journey further and further into the mountains.  Every one of us has interrupted that journey and retraced immeasurable distances to come down today on the mere chance of saving some Ghosts.”

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “thy will be done.”  All that are in Hell, choose it.  Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.  No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.  Those who seek find.  To those who knock, it is opened.”

“That is what she once was.  That is maybe what she still is.  If so, she certainly will be cured.  But the whole question is whether she is now a grumbler.  The question is whether she is a grumbler, or only a grumble.  If there is a real woman – even the least trace of one – still there inside the grumbling, it can be brought to life again.  If there’s one wee spark under all those ashes, we’ll blow it till the whole pile is red and clear.  But if there’s nothing but ashes we’ll not go on blowing them in our own eyes forever.  They must be swept up.”

“They repelled every attempt to teach them, and when they found that nobody listened to them they went back, one by one, to the bus.”

“For to be afraid of oneself is the last horror.”

“Those that hate goodness are sometimes nearer than those that know nothing at all and think they have it already.”

“I have asked you to forgive me.  What we called love down there was mostly the craving to be loved.  In the main I loved you for my own sake: because I needed you.”

“I am full now, not empty.  I am in Love Himself, not lonely.  Strong, not weak.  You shall be the same.  Come and see.  We shall have no need for one another now: we can begin to love truly.”

“Stop it at once… Using pity, other people’s pity, in the wrong way. We have all done it a bit on earth, you know.  Pity was meant to be a spur that drives joy to help misery.  But it can be used the wrong way round.  It can be used for a kind of blackmailing.  Those who choose misery can hold joy up to ransom, by pity.  You see, I know now.  Even as a child you did it.  Instead of saying you were sorry, you went and sulked in the attic… because you knew that sooner or later one of your sisters would say, “I can’t bear to think of him sitting up there alone, crying.”  You used your pity to blackmail them.”

“Our light can swallow up your darkness: but your darkness cannot now infect our light.  No, no, no.  Come to us.  We will not go to you.  Can you really have thought that love and joy would always be at the mercy of frowns and sighs? Did you not know they were stronger than their opposites?…  you cannot bring Hell into me… I am in Love, and out of it I will not go.”

“The demand of the loveless and the self-imprisoned that they should be allowed to blackmail the universe: that till they consent to be happy (on their own terms) no one else shall taste joy: that theirs should be the final power; that Hell should be able to veto Heaven.”

“Either the day must come when joy prevails and all the makers of misery are no longer able to infect it: or else for ever and ever the makers of misery can destroy in others the happiness they reject for themselves.”