Proverbs for Daily Living

The Book of Proverbs is a collection of pithy sayings that encapsulate the wit and wisdom of the Hebrew people. There’s the classic one: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Then there’s the humorous one: “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without good sense.” Today I’d like to treat you to some proverbs from all over the world that offer us wisdom for our daily living.

“In the midst of great joy, do not promise anyone anything. In the midst of great anger, do not answer anyone’s letter.” (Chinese)

“The reverse side also has a reverse side.” (Japanese)

“It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.” (Irish)

“For the benefit of the flowers we water the thorns.” (Egyptian)rose-1463385__180

“Grain by grain, a loaf; stone by stone, a castle.” (Bulgarian)

“Speak little, speak the truth; spend little, pay cash.” (German)

“If you can’t do as you wish, do as you can.” (Spanish)

“A lie travels around the world while the truth is putting on her shoes.” (French)

“The last seven hairs are combed with special care.” (Russian)

“If you wish to know who a person is, place him or her in authority.” (Czech)

“If you run after two rabbits, you won’t catch either.” (Armenian)

“When a thief kisses you, count your teeth.” (Yiddish)

“He who is outside his door already has a hard part of his journey behind him.” (Dutch)

“When a blind person carries a lame person, both go forward.” (Swedish)

“Hold a true friend with both hands.” (Nigerian)turtlenature-1428591__180

“After ecstasy, the laundry.” (Zen)

“A turtle travels only when it sticks its neck out.” (Korean)

“God save me from a bad neighbor and from a beginner on the fiddle.” (Italian)

“Habits are first cobwebs, then cables.” (Spanish)

“She who cannot dance, blames the floor.” (Hindu)

“Bad news goes about in clogs, good news in stocking feet.” (Welsh)

God is the source of all wisdom. This song by Keith and Kristyn Getty seems a fitting companion to this reflection. It’s called “The perfect Wisdom of Our God.”

Of all of these proverbs above, is there any that you struck you? Why?

Do you have any other proverbs that you like? Would be willing to share one of them with us?

PS: Happy Fourth of July to all my American readers! And Happy Canada Day (July 1) to all my Canadian readers!

Thank you all for your prayers for the retreat in Maggie Valley, NC last week. And thank you to all the participants who gathered from near and far (even Maryland and Florida!) for this retreat in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. I enjoyed being with all of you!



  1. Kathleen on July 4, 2016 at 5:47 am


    I have been to Wales and am partial to the proverb, “bad news goes about in clogs, good news in stocking feet.” It speaks to how we dwell on the negative at times and need to club rate good news more. I find that to be true in my own life. I get stuck on the bad news. A good reminder.

    Happy 4th of July!


  2. Mary on July 4, 2016 at 11:14 am

    “Begin to weave and God will give you the thread.” I came across this German proverb on a note card years ago. I’ve turned it into my own: “Give God the thread and God will begin to weave.”

  3. Julie Deuling on July 4, 2016 at 11:21 am

    If your day is hemmed in by prayer, it’s less likely to unravel!

    • Shirley Sahlfeld on July 5, 2016 at 8:59 am

      That is a wonderful proverb I will use it often; thanks for sharing.

  4. Jean Canatsey on July 4, 2016 at 11:26 am

    I’m not sure where this comes from, but my Dad installed in me the following proverb. “What is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.” Much to my husband of 60 years chagrin, I have lived by that motto.
    Happy 4th of July, Sr. Melannie!

    • Barbara on July 4, 2016 at 3:50 pm

      That was my late husband’s favourite saying. It’s right on, isn’t it?

  5. Mary on July 4, 2016 at 11:29 am

    So true. I need to offer the unraveled and frayed threads of my life each day to the Master Weaver!

  6. Patty on July 4, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Thank you, Sister. Happy 240th Independence Day.

  7. Kim on July 4, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    Thank you! Fun reading. Proverb from my mother, “Get ready first, play after.”

  8. Karen on July 4, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    The dog may bark but the caravan passes on.

  9. Sr. Carolyn Pozarich on July 4, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Be helpful as well as good looking.

  10. Rosemary on July 4, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    Thank you as always, Sister Melannie..
    My Irish Granny always said, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”…… I never quite figured out why she loved that one…but as you see, I have never forgotten it!!!!! She was a wise woman who loved life. She could still do a wee Irish Jig in her 80s !!! and died in 1963 at 94 years
    young. Her second favorite was, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride”. Happy Independence Day to everyone ❤️

  11. Anne on July 5, 2016 at 12:02 am

    Good morning Sr. Melanie. My Irish lovable grandad’s favourite ‘advice’ – ” It doesn’t matter how tall your grandad is, you’ve got to do your own growing”. In those early years I didn’t understand but as years and experiences have shown me, just how true the ‘advice’. Bless him. He died 64 years ago.

  12. Kathy on July 5, 2016 at 8:13 am

    A favorite of mine-
    The noblest question in the world is, ‘What good can I do in it?’
    Benjamin Franklin
    My husband impersonates Ben Franklin in local parades, so this was appropriate as he did his annual stint for 4th of July.

  13. Michelle K. on July 5, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Thanks for another wonderful reflection. The Korean proverb “a turtle travels only when it sticks its neck out” caught my attention today. It made me think of people who are “stuck in a rut” and want to make changes in their life but just stay in the same place because they never take that first step to initiate the change they crave.

  14. Joanne Bennardo on July 5, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    Dear Sister Melannie, Your wisdom quotes, from around the world, remind me that we are all God’s children–whenever one is lifted up, we are all boosted, and whenever one is made low, we are all humbled.

    I thought of this when I read the Irish proverb you quoted, “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.” God bless us all. Joanne

  15. Sister Josita on July 6, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Hi Melannie,
    I love the proverb “If you run after two rabbits, you won’t catch either.” (Armenian). I’ve never heard it before , but it sure helps one to keep focused!
    This is a very mundane saying but I think it makes for a good laugh or at least a smile: Definition of a well balanced life: A cookie in each hand. Happy summer. Josita

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