Favorite Quotes

We who are quotatious are never truly alone, but always hear the cheerful flow of remarks
made by dead writers so much more intelligent than we.
-Joseph Epstein

I’m frequently adding to this list, and not in any order. The categories so far are, as you scroll down this page:

The Work of Existence
Experiencing God
Past and Future
Mythic Metaphors
Wisdom and Thinking
Quotidian Mysteries
Books and Reading


The process of living seems to consist in coming to realize truths so ancient and simple that, if stated, they sound like barren platitudes. They cannot sound otherwise to those who have not had the relevant experience: that is why there is no real teaching of such truths possible and every generation starts from scratch. -C.S. Lewis

Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom. -Soren Kierkegaard

Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind. -G.K. Chesterton

When the whole world is running towards a cliff, he who is running in the opposite direction appears to have lost his mind. – C.S. Lewis

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. -Thornton Wilder

All creatures are balanced upon the creative word of God, as if upon a bridge of diamond; above them is the abyss of the divine infinitude, below them that of their own nothingness.  -St. Philaret of Moscow

A man can fail many times but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else. -John Burroughs

We have put the light burden on one side, that is to say, self-accusation, and we have loaded ourselves with a heavy one, that is to say, self-justification. -Abba John the Dwarf

The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater. –The Lord of the Rings

This life has been given to you for repentance; do not waste it in vain pursuits. -St. Isaac the Syrian

The one reality you can’t evade is personal experience. -David Bentley Hart

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important. -Bertrand Russell

What we call emancipation is always and of necessity simply the free choice of the soul between one set of limitations and another. -G.K. Chesterton

One cannot spend one’s time in being modern when there are so many more important things to be. -Wallace Stevens

It is impossible for one to live without tears who considers things exactly as they are. -St. Gregory of Nyssa

The saints always look to the other life. It is the grace of the remembrance of death. -Elder Amphilochios Makris

Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump; you may be freeing him from being a camel. -G.K. Chesterton

The house of delusions is cheap to build, but draughty to live in. -A. E. Housman

The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it. -John Ruskin

Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. -T.S. Eliot

When sorrow comes to us, we must await consolations, but after the consolation, we must again await sorrows. -St. Hilarion of Optina

The years between fifty and seventy are the hardest. You are always being asked to do more, and you are not yet decrepit enough to turn them down. -T.S. Eliot

Neurosis is the way of avoiding non-being by avoiding being. -Paul Tillich

Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still. -Thoreau

Only the mediocre are always at their best. -Jean Giraudoux

The fact that order and creativity are complementary has been basic to man’s cultural development; for he has to internalize order to be able to give external form to his creativity. -Lewis Mumford

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. -Rumi

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. -Anatole France

We are all in the same boat, in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.  -G.K. Chesterton

Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious. -Peter Ustinov

The times are never so bad but that a good man can make shift to live in them. -Thomas More

Sorrow burns up a great amount of shallowness. -Oswald Chambers

Serenity is the fruit of uncertainty freely accepted. -Don Colacho

I wake up each morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. This makes it very hard to plan the day. -E. B. White

When people insist on perfection or nothing, they get nothing. -Edith Schaeffer

Life is a vale of tears in which there are moments when you just can’t stop giggling. -Robert Brault

You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward. -James Thurber

The goal of human freedom is not in freedom itself, nor it is in man, but in God. By giving man freedom, God has yielded to man a piece of His Divine authority, but with the intention that man himself would voluntarily bring it as a sacrifice to God, a most perfect offering. -St. Theophan the Recluse

A contented spirit is the sweetness of existence. -Charles Dickens

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All the way to heaven is heaven, because Jesus said “I am the way.” -Catherine of Siena

Wherever there is beauty, Christ the Word is speaking to your heart of the Love the Holy Trinity has for you. – Father Jonathan Tobias

Christ is Everything. He is joy, He is life, He is light. He is the true light who makes man joyful, makes him soar with happiness; makes him see everything, everybody; makes him feel for everyone, to want everyone with him, everyone with Christ. -Elder Porphyrios

We can do no great things – only small things with great love. -Mother Teresa

It is a kind of self-projection of our sins when we insist on other people becoming good. In reality, we wish to become good, but because we are unable to, we demand it of others and insist on this. -Elder Porphyrios

Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.  -Victor Hugo

The sins of the entire world drown in the sea of God’s love, like a stone which sinks when thrown into the water. -Abbot Nikon

Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind. -G.K. Chesterton

Repentance is not self-flagellation; it is an opening flower. -Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

By faithfulness we are collected and wound up into unity within ourselves, whereas we had been scattered abroad in multiplicity. -St. Augustine

You cannot have God for your Father unless you have the church for your Mother. -John Calvin

The principle part of faith is patience. -George MacDonald

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It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see. -Winston Churchill

My hope is in Christ, not in knowing details of His plan for me. When I die, I will commend my spirit into His hands, and then be extremely curious. -Fr. Stephen Freeman

The past is not what it was. -G.K. Chesterton

In the beginning there was the Word and not the talk, and in the end there won’t be the propaganda but again the Word. -Gottfried Benn

People who make history know nothing about history. You can see that in the sort of history they make. -G.K. Chesterton

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The breaking of a wave cannot explain the whole sea. -Vladimir Nabokov

If you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick every day. -Leonard Cohen

What is to give light must endure burning. -Viktor Frankl

I’ve loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night. -Galileo

A fly may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but one is but an insect, and the other is a horse still. -Samuel Johnson

A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. -Mark Twain

One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak. -G.K. Chesterton

Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid. -Mark Twain

Be humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of stars. -Serbian Proverb

Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. -G.K. Chesterton

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I always have a quotation for everything — it saves original thinking.  -Dorothy L. Sayers

It is assumed that the skeptic has no bias; whereas he has an obvious bias in favor of skepticism.  -G.K. Chesterton

We dare not trust our wit for making our house pleasant to our friend, so we buy ice cream.  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.  -G.K. Chesterton

In the whole range of evil thoughts, none is richer in resources than self-esteem; for it is to be found almost everywhere, and like some cunning traitor in a city it opens the gates to all the demons.  -Evagrios the Solitary

One of the functions of intelligence is to take account of the dangers that come from trusting solely to the intelligence. -Lewis Mumford

Young people have insight. They have a flash here and a flash there. It is like the stars coming out in the early evening. They have flashes of light. It is later in the dark of life that you see forms, constellations. And it is the constellations that are philosophy. -Robert Frost

Where there is simplicity, there are a hundred Angels, but where there is cleverness – there are none.  -St. Ambrose of Optina

I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of everything else. -G.K. Chesterton

A man is not necessarily intelligent because he has plenty of ideas, any more than he is a good general because he has plenty of soldiers.  -Sebastien Chamfort

The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.  -G.K. Chesterton

I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know. -Mark Twain

The wisdom of the Holy Spirit is much greater than the wisdom of the entire world. Within the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, silence prevails; the wisdom of the world, however, goes astray into idle talk. -St Isaac of Syria

There are no boring subjects, only disinterested minds. -G.K. Chesterton

A little or superficial knowledge of philosophy may incline the mind of man to atheism, but a further proceeding therein doth bring the mind of man back again. -Francis Bacon

One must be a god to be able to tell successes from failures without making a mistake. -Chekhov

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials. -Lin Yutang

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep. -Saul Bellow

Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. -G.K. Chesterton

We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality. -Albert Einstein

The Church is the one thing that prevents a man from the degrading servitude of being a child of his own time. -G.K. Chesterton

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Mountains are giant, restful, absorbent. You can heave your spirit into a mountain, and the mountain will keep it, folded, and not throw it back as creeks will. The creeks are all the world with all its stimulus and beauty; I live there. But the mountains are home. – Annie Dillard

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea. -Isak Dinesen

Space and light and order. Those are the things that people need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep. -Le Corbusier

Wise and purposeful letting alone is the best part of education. -Charlotte Mason

Music is a missionary effort to colonise earth for imperialistic heaven. -Rebecca West

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Posting a letter and getting married are among the few things left that are entirely romantic; for to be entirely romantic a thing must be irrevocable. -G.K. Chesterton

The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken. -Samuel Johnson

The most prosaic man becomes a poem when you stand by his grave at his funeral and think of him.  -Thomas Hardy

He that despises small things will perish little by little. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Parents are the bone on which children sharpen their teeth. -Peter Ustinov

I have enough money to last the rest of life, unless I buy something. -Jackie Mason

It is the main earthly business of a human being to make his home, and the immediate surroundings of his home, as symbolic and significant to his own imagination as he can. -G.K. Chesterton

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. -John Gunther

Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you. -Annie Dillard

Music with dinner is an insult both to the cook and the violinist. -G.K. Chesterton

How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like Kleenex? -Julia Child

A home without a cat – and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat – may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title? -Mark Twain

Who does not want to work in the heat, will have to starve in the cold. -Swedish Proverb

Life is too complicated not to be orderly. -Martha Stewart

Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation. -St. Augustine

What we hope ever to do with ease we must learn first to do with diligence. -Samuel Johnson

We cannot go to heaven in featherbeds. -Thomas More

Cheese is milk’s leap towards immortality. -Clifton Fadiman

All music is folk music. Horses don’t sing. -Louis Armstrong

A good man’s work is effected by doing what he does, a woman’s by being what she is. -G.K. Chesterton

Wonderful music like this was the worst hurt there could be. The whole world was this symphony and there was not enough of her to listen. –The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all. -H. L. Mencken

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A woman uses her intelligence to find reasons to support her intuition. -G.K. Chesterton

People talk of the pathos and failure of plain women; but it is a more terrible thing that a beautiful woman may succeed in everything but womanhood. -G.K. Chesterton

Women are the only realists; their whole object in life is to pit their realism against the extravagant, excessive, and occasionally drunken idealism of men. -G.K. Chesterton

Women have a thirst for order and beauty as for something physical; there is a strange female power of hating ugliness and waste as good men can only hate sin and bad men virtue. -G.K. Chesterton

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The world is a hellish place, and bad writing is destroying the quality of our suffering. -Tom Waits

I am not myself very much concerned with the question of influence, or with those publicists who have impressed their names upon the public by catching the morning tide and rowing very fast in the direction in which the current was flowing; but rather that there should always be a few writers preoccupied in penetrating to the core of the matter, in trying to arrive at the truth and to set it forth, without too much hope, without ambition to alter the immediate course of affairs, and without being downcast or defeated when nothing appears to ensue. -T.S. Eliot

Find what gave you emotion; what the action was that gave you excitement. Then write it down making it clear so that the reader can see it too. Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over. -Ernest Hemingway

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. -Thomas Mann

You are a Seminole alligator wrestler. Half naked, with your two bare hands, you hold and fight a sentence’s head while its tail tries to knock you over. -Annie Dillard

The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention. -Flannery O’Connor

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. -Jack London

All my life I have been trying to learn to read, to see and hear, and to write. -Carl Sandburg

I am a bad reporter because everything seems to me worth reporting; and a bad reviewer because every sentence in every book suggests a separate essay. -G.K. Chesterton

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Memorize poetry & short prose hunks. This makes language eucharistic: you eat it. You take somebody else’s passion & suffering into your body, and it transforms you. -Mary Karr

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. -Joseph Brodsky

If you cannot read all your books…fondle them, peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them, at any rate, be your acquaintances. -Winston Churchill

Bread of flour is good; but there is bread, sweet as honey, if we would eat it, in a good book. -John Ruskin

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. -Francis Bacon

The oldest books are still only just out to those who have not read them. -Samuel Butler

Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind. -James Russell Lowell

There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and a tired man who wants a book to read. -G.K. Chesterton

Books are carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculations at a standstill. -Barbara Tuchman

He has read well who has learnt that there is more to read outside books than in them. -Thomas Hardy

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Whatever you do, do it gently and unhurriedly, because virtue is not a pear to be eaten in one bite. -Saint Seraphim of Sarov

Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.-~A. A. Milne

Teach your child to hold his tongue, He’ll learn fast enough to speak. -Benjamin Franklin

If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts.  -Charles Spurgeon

If you’re going through hell, keep going.  -Winston Churchill

It is worthwhile to remember that space is the most precious and also the most pleasing thing in a house or room; and that even a small room becomes spacious if it is not crowded with useless objects. -Charlotte Mason

You can’t live on amusement. It is the froth on water – an inch deep and then the mud. -George MacDonald

If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.  -Julia Child

Where there is no choice, we do well to make no difficulty.  -George MacDonald

Do not give your heart to that which does not satisfy your heart.  -Abba Poemen

When giving treats to friends or children, give them what they like, emphatically not what is good for them.  -G.K. Chesterton

Sometimes you have to look reality in the eye and deny it.  -Garrison Keillor

If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.  -Mark Twain

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.  -Andy Rooney

Men should stop fighting among themselves and start fighting insects.  -Luther Burbank

The great secret of succeeding in conversation is to admire little, hear much; always to distrust our own reason, and sometimes that of our friends; never to pretend to wit, but to make that of others appear as much as we possibly can; to hearken to what is said, and to answer to the purpose.  -Benjamin Franklin

To feel at home, stay at home.  -Clifton Fadiman

5 thoughts on “Favorite Quotes

  1. Gretchen:
    Hope you are doing well today! I love quotes. I send our sons a quote every morning. I always hope that the quote will encourage them in their day. I don’t have time to tailor make one for each individual son, but try to choose one that will speak to at least some of them.



  2. Such a trove of delight and depth. Thank you for compiling these and posting them….l love reading a quote that makes me just stop and gaze off into the distance with no idea how long it’ll be before I return to myself.


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