Quotations about Life

It is time for another visit to my quote collection. Those of you familiar with my blog, know I have a huge collection of quotes I have amassed since I was a college student! Every now and then, I like to share some of these quotations with you. Here are 18 quotes I have filed under life:

1. “Life is not a spelling bee, where no matter how many words you’ve gotten right, if you make one mistake, you are disqualified. Life is more like a baseball season, where even the best team loses one-third of its games and even the worst team has its days of brilliance.” (Rabbi Harold Kushner in How Good Do We Have to Be?)

2. “The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.” (Thomas Moore)

3. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” (Annie Dillard in The Writing Life.)

4. “Seek not for fresher founts afar, Just drop your bucket where you are.” (S.W. Foss)

5. “Be the person you want to marry.” (Jason Evert)

6. “When the pond dries up and the fish are lying on the parched earth, to moisten them with one’s breath or damp them with spittle is no substitute for flinging them back into the lake. Don’t enliven people with doctrines; throw them back into Reality. For the secret of life is to be found in life itself—not in doctrines about it.” (Fr. Anthony de Mello, SJ in Taking Flight.)

7. “When order crumbles, Mystery rises.” (John Shea in Stories of God.)

8. “It is sad to grow old, but nice to ripen.” (Brigitte Bardot)

9. “Just pray for a tough hide and a tender heart.” (Ruth Graham)

10. “Dreams and dedication are a powerful combination.” (William Longgood in Voices from the Earth)

11. “See everything. Overlook a great deal. Improve a little.” (Pope John XXIII)

12. “Why wait? Life is not a dress rehearsal.” (Marilyn Grey)

13. “It is easier to reject a hurting world than to embrace it with compassion.” (Eugene Kennedy in A Time for Being Human)

14. “Most of us have an idea how we think our days should go. We want nights of undisturbed sleep, regular meals and calm homes with a certain amount of order. But in our quest to keep order, sometimes we overlook the fact that some of the most important moments in our lives are unplanned. Through the cracks in our days often come life and love and moments of connection. (Mary Beth Danielson)

15. “Beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there’s a field. I’ll meet you there.” (Rumi)

16. “Your life must be one wild birdsong of praise, one wildflower’s face looking up to God.” (Janet Stuart)

17. “Life is a luminous pause between two great mysteries (birth and death), which themselves are one.” (Carl Jung)

18. “We have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” (Inscription on an astronomer’s grave, Allegheny Observatory, University of Pittsburgh.)

Did any of these quotations speak to you today? If so, which one(s)?

Do you have a quotation about life that you’d like to share with us below?

PS: I ask your prayers for a gathering of the four American provinces of my congregation the Sisters of Notre Dame July 9-12 in Columbus, Ohio. Next year we are becoming one province–something we have been working towards for several years. Sisters from California, Kentucky (Covington), and Ohio (Cleveland and Toledo) will be meeting to discern leadership, to share faith, to get to know each other a little better, and to have some fun. Thank you for your prayers!

Our song today is called “Human Way” by the Canadian singer/songwriter Declan Donovan. (I thank a good friend for calling my attention to this song.) The song asks some good questions for all of us to reflect on: “Is there still time to live your life?… Have you been holding back so long, so long, so long?”


As usual, I encourage your responses below:






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  1. R C Salina on July 8, 2019 at 4:23 am

    Early,early good morning Sister Melanie

    I turn 80 Wednesday and all your quotes are
    like so many gift cards. Is there still time to live
    your life? Take that one to the bank. Bless you
    and your work. RC

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on July 8, 2019 at 6:57 am

      Have a wonderful 80th birthday on Wednesday, RC! Do something fun! Sr. Melannie

  2. Kathleen Magiera on July 8, 2019 at 5:16 am

    Sr. Melannie,

    I like #7: When order crumbles, mystery rises. (John Shea). In my life, order has recently evaporated and I am learning to live in the mystery of life. It is a little unsettling but the Holy Spirit is whispering to me.

    Prayed for you and your fellow sisters.


  3. John E Hopkins on July 8, 2019 at 5:27 am

    Good morning, Sr. Melannie…..What a beautiful collection!

    As a baseball fan, I really like Rabbi Kushner’s baseball analogy. To extend on that analogy just a bit, a three hundred hitter fails 70% of the time and yet a such a hitter is considered a superstar!

  4. Denise on July 8, 2019 at 6:01 am

    Good Morning,

    I think all the above carry a wonderful simple message about life. Be where you are, look for the hand of God in everything and don’t be afraid. I find myself saying often “I can’t imagine”. Well, He can and I’m grateful for the wonder of life, though at times I stumble to keep up.
    Thank you for the song as well, it’s a keeper.


  5. Ed Johnson on July 8, 2019 at 6:26 am

    Sister Melanie,
    Wonderful quotes. I especially like #5…”Be the person you want to marry.” A personal favorite of mine is from the people’s astronomer, Carl Sagan…..”Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.” Blessings on your gathering in Columbus.

  6. Kathy on July 8, 2019 at 7:22 am

    Thanks, again, Sr. Melannie,

    I, also, am a fan of quotes. #14 speaks to me today, about surprises, or things that shake up the routine of life.

    Recently my father passed away, and I gave a eulogy at his funeral. I began with a quote by Lou Holtz, who my father admired.

    “I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care.”

    Love that one.

    • Barb on July 8, 2019 at 7:50 am

      Thank you Kathy for that quote-I wrote it down.
      Also loved the song Sister, thank you for always starting our week out right.

  7. Thomas DeFreitas on July 8, 2019 at 8:00 am

    life is more true that reason will deceive
    (more secret or than madness did reveal)
    deeper is life than lose:higher than have
    –but beauty is more each than living’s all

    ~ Edward Estlin Cummings

    Life is real! Life is earnest!
    And the grave is not its goal;
    Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
    Was not spoken of the soul.

    ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    In your anthology, I cherish 1, 8, 9, 11, 13, and others. I’m having a long conversation with #6, as I have always believed that doctrine has its utility; still, Fr de Mello’s words have a deep poetic incontrovertibility!

    I recall an anecdote of a scientist who, impatient of jargon and cumbersome language, defined life as “that which moves and leaves little messes after itself”! A workable definition, perhaps?

    But then there is the life of the soul, and for that I think we have to turn to the poets, the musicians, the artists, and the scriptures of the various sacred traditions.

    Always enjoyable, Sister! Have a great week, everybody!

    Peace and light.

  8. Linda on July 8, 2019 at 8:03 am

    Sr. Melanie,

    Thanks, you will never know how I needed these quotes today.

    Kathy, thanks for the Lou Holts quote!

  9. Mary on July 8, 2019 at 8:16 am

    Oh Sister, I always look forward to your Monday morning inspiration! Your wisdom helps me think more clearly and brings me closer to Our Lord in so many ways. Thank you so much. You are forever in my prayers!
    Quotes number two and number five go together for me because they remind me of my sweet husband who inspires me to be a better person with his daily, genuine acts of kindness and love. It’s all the small treasures of each day that fill my heart with love and bring joy to our life!

  10. Mary M Nausadis on July 8, 2019 at 8:18 am

    “It’s sad to grow old, but nice to ripen”. I think that is what the song was talking about, in many ways. The true beauty is never seen until it is fully ripened. At 75, I am still ripening, knowing I’m not yet ready to be picked.
    Oh, that I have enough time to ripen to the fullest of who God knows me to be.
    Don’t pluck the flower until its time….don’t give up on living until the last breath is breathed.

    I hold you all in prayer as you meet this month to work out the details of merging. Being a Dominican associate, I know what a struggle all of you religious vowed women are going to through, discerning the best next step for your communities.

    God’s peace and blessings on you Sr. Melannie

  11. Sister Mary Eamon on July 8, 2019 at 8:34 am

    Great quotes! Our prayers are with you.
    Sr Eamon

  12. Sandy on July 8, 2019 at 9:37 am

    I loved the quote be Janet Stuart. “Your life must be one wild birdsong of praise. One wildflower’s face looking for God”. It made my heart sing as I had visual of my soul turning toward God. Thank you Prayers are with all the sisters this week.

  13. Micki on July 8, 2019 at 10:05 am

    One of my favorites is from Leonard Cohen:
    Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack in everything…
    That’s how the light gets in.

  14. Frances on July 8, 2019 at 10:09 am

    I like # 15, “Beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing, there’s a field, I’ll meet you there.” somehow speaks to me of unconditional love, of acceptance—-the way Jesus loves.

  15. Josita on July 8, 2019 at 10:46 am

    Good morning, Melannie, I always look forward to your reflections.
    I, too, have been collecting quotes for a long time, so I had difficulty finding which to share. I chose these two:
    1. I love God only as much as I love the person I love the least. D. Day

    2. Each of us has come with a gift. If we do not give our gift, the world misses out. Mary Beth Ingham

    Will be praying for your gathering …4 years ago our three American provinces merged…a long difficult process, but so unifying and a blessing that we are grateful for!

  16. Terri Butel on July 8, 2019 at 11:46 am

    I too have a quote collection that I enjoy – thank you for adding to it! I like many but #14 is a new favorite.

    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming — “Wow — What A Ride!”
    Hunter S Thompson

    Blessings on the gathering of the Sisters of Notre Dame American provinces!

  17. joan metzger on July 8, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Sister Melanie,
    I echo so many of those who wrote in before me, your Monday morning reflections are always so meaningful. My favorite quotes of yours are #1 and 8. I also like the quotes by e. e. cummings and the Hunter S. Thompson. I’ll be jotting them all down for my own reflection file.
    You are in my prayers.

  18. Ron on July 8, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    Words from the music “The Spirit Within Us” by the Benedictines at Weston priory: “The only joy is to be alive in the Father’s love”.

  19. Lucille Blais on July 8, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    Life is a big canvas, and you should throw all. the paint on it that you can.

    Life has no limitations except the ones you make.

    Life is an uncharted territory. It reveals its story one moment at a time.

  20. Marty on July 8, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    While strolling through a country graveyard I came across this quote “You never die when you live in the loving hearts left behind” It reminded me why God created in His Image(LOVE s ITSELF).Be assured of daily prayer for your community, that it flows smoothly and brings joy to you all as I know it will for God.

  21. Beverly Palumbo,RSM on July 8, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Dearest Sister Melanie, as a member of a community that has made part of the journey towards oneness, I offer my prayerful support to you and your community. Let us move along in the present as we make our way into the future. God is with you and so are we. God bless.

  22. Jean Canatsey on July 13, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    I especially liked #8. “It is sad to grow old, but nice to ripen.” At 79 and 82, my husband and I feel blessed to be growing old and comfortable with the ripening.
    My Dad left me with a couple of quotes that have become part of my life’s philosophy.
    #1 “Use your gifts or you will lose them.”
    #2 “If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well.”
    Thank you, Sr. Melannie, for being part of our ripening process.

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