The Space Between Givens*
Quotes of Reassurance amidst Too Much to Do

If you are feeling overwhelmed – by your job, by your need to find a job, by your family obligations, by caring intensely about suffering in the world, by your desire for more time to do the things you care about most – you may find nuggets of encouragement in the collective wisdom below.

Pansies in Blue Glass Vase, by Christy ThompsonI want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact — to borrow from the languages of the saints — to live "in grace" as much of the time as possible.
~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Gift from the Sea

If you let it, it supports itself. You don’t have to.  Every something is a celebration of the nothing that supports it.  When we remove the world from our shoulders, we notice it doesn’t drop. Where is the responsibility?
~ John Cage
“Lecture on Something”

Saving time, it seems, has a primacy that’s too rarely examined.
~ Ellen Goodman
Close to Home

Even if you have a lot of work to do, if you think of it as wonderful, and if you feel it as wonderful, it will transform into the energy of joy and fire, instead of becoming a burden.
~ Tulku Thondup Rinpoche
The Practice of Dzogchen

Providence has hidden a charm in difficult undertakings which is appreciated only by those who dare to grapple with them.
~ Anne-Sophie Swetchine
The Writings of Madame Swetchine

May the sun bring you new energy by day; may the moon softly restore you by night; may the rain wash away your worries; may the breeze blow new strength into your being.
~ Apache Blessing

Sometimes you feel a weight on your shoulders.  That in itself is not a problem.  When we say "weight", people think, "Oh, it's not good!"  But to feel the weight is not necessarily bad.  The weight comes with the situation.  You just have to know how to relate to the weight in a solemn way.
~ Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche
from Yangsi (Crestone Films)

Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest for your souls.
~ Matthew 11: 28-29

From my depths I call to You: Give me the courage to call out to You for what I need.
~ Vanessa L. Ochs, in Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon’s Prayers for a Thousand Years

Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which animates all whom it floats, and you are without effort impelled to truth, to right and a perfect contentment.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Spiritual Laws”

Alpine Vista, by Verena KesslerIn that tiny space between all the givens is freedom.
~ Sue Bender

But those who wait upon Yahweh shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings like eagles.  They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
~ Isaiah 40: 31

Patient endurance attains to all things.
~ St. Teresa of Avila
“Bookmark”, found in her prayer book after her death

There is really nothing to be afraid of. Remember the instruction: Whatever you come across – go beyond.
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

By a strange mystery — which is connected with the power of the social element — a profession can confer on quite ordinary people in their exercise of it, virtues which, if they were extended to all circumstances of life, would make of them heroes or saints.
~ Simone Weil
Gravity and Grace

Suffering is not overcome by leaving pain behind; suffering is overcome by bearing pain for others.
~ His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

If we truly believe in the dignity of labor, any task can be performed with equal pride because none can demean the basic dignity of a human being.
~ Judith Martin
Common Courtesy

Darling, the body is a guest house;
every morning someone new arrives.
Don’t say, “Oh, another weight around my neck!”
Or your guest will fly back to nothingness.
Whatever enters your house is a guest
from the invisible world;
Entertain it well.
~ Jelaluddin Rumi
Mathnawi V: 3644-3646
translated by Kabir and Camille Helminski


Br. David resting in treeWhat is leisure? As the balance between work and rest, it is the opposite of idleness because it is the basis from which good work starts and grows. We might say that leisure is the beginning of all virtues in the sense that it is an inner attitude of openness and trust. Its characteristics are “taking it easy” rather than “keeping busy,” of “allowing things to happen,” not “keeping things under control.” Trust is necessary, because we can only let things happen if we believe that things will work out all right, that events and circumstances and things and situations come from a source that wants our good. We can open our hands and receive these things without the nagging fear that they are traps. The difference between this inner openness and a kind of nervous choosiness is the difference between an open hand and a clenched fist.

Thus, leisure is the basis for a full awareness, for as long as we pick and choose we limit our horizons. And, to the degree to which our awareness is increased, our aliveness is increased. That is what leisure is – the amount of our aliveness.
~ Br. David Steindl-Rast
in “Work and Leisure


* Our thanks to Sue Bender
for inspiring this collection's title!