When I was in high school, I began collecting quotations: A line from a poem, a proverb I chanced upon, something I read in a book. I dutifully copied them into a small notebook and took joy in reading them from time to time.
As a college student (and a novice) I continued collecting quotes, only now I found the small notebook confining and
inefficient. It was difficult for me to find and retrieve a particular quote when I wanted it. So I started writing the quotations on 3″ x 5″ cards. Back in those olden days, however, I would never have thought to ask my novice director for real file cards. That would have been too extravagant. Instead I found some half clean paper and cut my own 3″ x 5″ cards. I would write a key word on each card—such as love, suffering, joy—copy the quotation, and file the card alphabetically.
As a teacher, my quote collection grew so large, I scrounged up some old metal drawers in which to store them. I had two drawers at first and then four drawers. Today I have six drawers and am considering purchasing
another two. I regularly used my quotations in my teaching. In my classroom I often wrote a quote in the top corner of the blackboard each day. Sometimes I would refer to the quote during a lesson. Other times I would just let the quote speak for itself. If I forgot to change the quote on a given day, a student would point to the board before class and say, “Sister, that’s the quote from yesterday. What’s today’s quote?” Sometimes I would see a student copying the quote in her notebook. Other times a student would hand me a quote he thought I might like.
As a writer, I refer to my quotation “library” often. I figure if someone else has already said well what I was going to say, why not quote them? I know you can get all kinds of quotes online these days, but sometimes you have to plow through dozens to find a gem. Whereas I know most of the quotes in my library are already gems. That’s why I copied them in the first place.
I’m always on the lookout for new quotes. Whenever I read a book, for example, I use a half dozen or so file cards as my bookmark. If I come across a quote I really like, I copy it onto a card as I’m reading the book. My quotation collection is constantly expanding. Friends (like Bishop Bob Morneau of Green Bay, WI) often send me quotes. When I’m giving retreats or talks, participants sometimes write out one of their favorite quotations for me.
Which categories do I have the most quotations for? That’s easy: Life and love. But Adversity, Education, Faith, God, Nature, Prayer, and Writing also have a lot of quotes.
How could I write about my quote collection without sharing a few quotes with you? First, here’s an old one written on a 3″ x 5″ piece of half-clean paper—so it’s from my college days—(that’s 50 years ago!): I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we’re moving (Oliver Wendell Holmes).
In contrast, here is a quote I copied only yesterday: Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well (Robert Louis Stevenson).
Under Humility I have this gem: Humility is the ability to recognize the glory in the clay of me (Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB).
And I must include one of my zillion quotes on love: Nothing is solid, everything moves. Except love. Hold on to love. Do what love requires (Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ).
And finally, let me conclude with a quotation about quotations by a U.S. Quotation Anthologist and author of the website: The Quote Garden: “Most collectors collect tangibles. As a quote collector, I collect wisdom, life, invisible beauty, souls alive in ink (Terri Guillemets). I couldn’t have said it better myself!
Here is a quote from Jesus, one of the most often-quoted persons of all. It is set to music by JumpStart3 a group started by Jeff McCullough. As a child, Jeff’s learning disability made it difficult for him to memorize scripture. As an adult, with his background in music and writing jingles for companies nation-wide, he decided to set scripture verses to upbeat contemporary music especially for children. Here is “I leave you my peace.”
Do you like quotations? If so do you have a favorite one you’d like to share with us?