Quotes from My Bright Abyss, Christian Wiman.

Source: tcc.org

I picked up a book the other day that was one of the texts in a course I took several years ago at Regis. This was the second time I reread the book. Christian Wiman, who considers himself primarily a poet, wrote My Bright Abyss which is a compilation of journal entries.

One can almost hear him thinking as he lingers over experiences about God. The book does not have a story line except for the fact that while writing this book he was diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. He admits that not only does this reality affect his writing, it is at the core of it.

A quote on the back cover states: “A book that will give light and strength, even to those who find themselves unable to follow its difficult path.” (Adam Kirsch, The New Yorker) I count myself among those who have found the path at times difficult but it was worth reading from cover to cover if only because many of the quotes stand on their own in expressing prose laden with spiritual insights.

Thus I include here a series of quotes taken out of a book apt for poet and spiritual person alike:

“All love abhors habit, and poetry is a species of love.”

“Sometimes God calls a person to unbelief in order that faith may take  new forms.”

“…this is how you ascertain the truth of spiritual experience: it propels you back toward the world and other people, and not simply more deeply within yourself.”

“What we call doubt is often simply dullness of mind and spirit, not the absence of faith at all, but faith latent in the lives we are not quite living, God dormant in the world to which we are not quite giving our best selves.”

“So much of faith has so little to do with belief, and so much to do with acceptance.”

“To experience grace is one thing; to integrate it into your life is quite another.”

“Faith can not save you from the claims of reason, except insofar as it preserves and protects that wonderful, terrible time when reason, if only for a moment, lost its claim on you.”

“…faith is not a new life…it is the old life newly seen.”

“One must learn to be in unknowingness without being proud of it.”

“God’s absence is always a call to his presence. Abundance and destitution are two facets of the one face of God, and to be spiritually alive in the fullest sense is to recall one when we are standing squarely in the midst of the other.”

“Revelation, like creation, arises not merely out of nothingness, but by means of it.”

“…to strike the harp of heaven make death a friend.”” (Eugenio Montale, translationJohnathan Galassi)

“…if grace woke me to God’s presence in the world and in my heart, it also woke me to his absence. I never truly felt the pain of unbelief until I began to believe.”

“But if you find that you can not believe in God, then do not worry yourself with it. No one can say what names or forms God might take, nor gauge the immensity of unbelief we may need to wake up our souls.”

Thank you to Mary Jo Leddy who selected this book as required reading for the course: The Imagination of Spirit at Regis College.

Grace Colella is an educator and part-time student in the MAMS program at Regis College.

  • Peter Bisson, SJ
    Posted at 01:26h, 18 February Reply

    Thank you Grace!

    • Grace Colella
      Posted at 12:12h, 18 February Reply

      You’re welcome Peter!

  • Sharon Walters
    Posted at 08:29h, 18 February Reply

    Thank you Grace for introducing us to “My Bright Abyss”….beautiful quotations.

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