She makes an unlikely preacher’s wife.  She says so herself.  But she never flinches from any of it.  Mary Magdalene probably made an occasional casserole, whatever the ancient equivalent might have been… I mean only respect when I say your mother has always struck me as someone with whom the lord might have chosen to spend some part of His Mortal time… There is an earned innocence, I believe, which is as much to be honoured as the innocence of children… When the Lord says you must ‘become as one of these little ones’ , I take Him to mean you must be stripped of all the accretions of smugness and pretense and triviality.  “Naked I came out of my mother’s womb’, and so on… It has pleased me when I have thought your mother felt at home in the world, even momentarily.  At peace in it, I should say, because I believe her familiarity with the world may be much deeper than mine.  I do truly wish I had the means to spare you the slightest acquaintance with that very poverty the Lord Himself blessed by word and example… still it shames me to think that I will leave you and your mother so naked to the world – dear Lord, I think, spare them that blessing.



I get much more respect than I deserve.  This seems harmless enough in most cases.  People want to respect the pastor and I’m not going to interfere with that. But I’ve developed a great reputation for wisdom by ordering more books that I ever had time to read, and reading more books, by far, than I learned anything useful from except, of course, some very tedious gentlemen have written books.  This is not a new insight, but the truth of it is something you have to experience to fully grasp.

                                Thank God for them all, of course, and for that strange interval, which was most of my life, when I read out of loneliness, and when bad company was much better than no company.  You can love a bad book for its haplessness or pomposity or gall, if you have that starvling appetite for things human, which I devoutly hope you will never have.  ‘The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.’ There are pleasures to be found where you would never look for them.


A good sermon is one side of a passionate conversation.  It has to be heard in that way.  There are three parties to it, of course, but so are there to even the most private thought – the self that yields the thought, the self that acknowledges and in some way responds to the thought, and the Lord.  That is a remarkable thing to consider.

p. 54-55

I read somewhere that a thing that does not exist in relation to anything else cannot itself be said to exist.  I can’t quite see the meaning of a statement so purely hypothetical as this, though I may simply lack understanding… My grandfather had nowhere to spend his courage, no way to feel it in himself.  That was a great pity.

…I can’t tell you though, how I felt, walking alon

g beside him [my father] that night, along the rutted road, through that empty world – what a sweet strength I felt, in him, and in myself, and all around us.  I am glad I didn’t understand, because I have rarely felt joy like that, and assurance.