Monday, May 9, 2016

Commonplace Book: quotations from Elizabeth Goudge's "The Dean's Watch"

"The Dean's Watch", by Elizabeth Goudge, is a beautiful book (full review coming tomorrow). I quoted it once already on the blog here, but here are some other quotations I particularly loved:

Could mere loving be a life's work? Could it be a career like marriage or nursing the sick or going on the stage? Could it be an adventure? -ch. 7 

It was then that the central figure of the Gospels, a historical figure whom she deeply revered and sought to imitate, began at rare intervals to flash out at her like live lightning from their pages, frightening her, turning the grave blueprint into a dazzle of reflected fire. Gradually she learned to see that her fear was not of the lightning itself but what it showed her of the nature of love, for it dazzled behind the stark horror of Calvary. At this point, where so many lovers faint and fail, Mary Montague went doggedly on over another period of years that seemed if possible longer and harder than the former period. At some point along the way, she did not know where because the change came so slowly and gradually, she realized that He had got her and got everything. His love held and illumined every human being for whom she was concerned, and whom she served with the profound compassion which was their need and right, behind the Cathedral, the city, every flower and leaf and creature, giving it reality and beauty. She could not take her eyes from the incredible glory of His love. As far as it was possible for a human being in this world she had turned from herself. She could say, "I have been turned," and did not know how very few can speak these words with truth. -ch. 7. 

She lived too close to despair to have any strength left for self-knowledge. -ch. 8.

It was years before he was to realize that a sense of identity is the gift of love, and only love can give it... -ch. 9.

She was slow, too, now that she was old. With time a thing so soon to be finished with, it was right to let the last strands pass slowly through the fingers. One had liked time. -ch. 13.

He spoke of love, and a child could have understood him. He said that only in the manger and upon the cross is love seen in its maturity, for upon earth the mighty strength of love has been unveiled once only. On earth, among men, it is seldom more than a seed in the hearts of those who choose it. If it grows at all it is no more than a stunted and sometimes harmful thing, for its true growth and purging are beyond death. There it learns to pour itself out until it has no self left to pour. Then, in the hollow of God's hand into which it has emptied itself, it is His own to all eternity. If there were no life beyond death, argued the Dean, there could be no perfecting of love, and no God, since He is Himself that life and love. It is by love alone that we escape death, and love alone is our surety for eternal life. If there were no springtime there would be no seeds. The small brown shell, the seed of the apple tree in bloom, is evidence for the sunshine and the singing of the birds. -ch. 17.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

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