Hannah coulter quotes

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Hannah Coulter Quotes.

21. "As many who have known it have set of it, war is Hell. It is the outer darkness beyond the reach of love, where people who do not know one another kill one another and there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, were nothing is allowed to be real enough to be spared. . . It is hard to live one life and imagine another, but imagination is what is needed. Want of imagination makes things on real enough to be destroyed. By imagination I mean knowledge and love. I mean compassion. People of power kill children, the old send the young to die, because they have no imagination. They have power. Can you have power and imagination of the same time? Can you kill people you don’t know and have compassion for them at the same time?"
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

22. "Happiness had a way of coming to you and making you sad. You would think, 'There seems to have been a time when I deserved such a happiness and needed it, like a day's pay, and now I have no use for it at all.' How can you be happy, how can you live, when all the things that make you happy grieve you nearly to death?"
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

23. "The difference between me and Mr. and Mrs. Feltner, as I had to see and feel even in my own grief, was that they were old and I was young. I was filled with life, with my life and Virgil's life, with the life of our baby, and with other lives that might, in time, come to me. But the Feltners had begun to be old. Life had quit coming to them, and was going away."
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

24. "I began to know my story then. Like everybody's, it was going to be the story of living in the absence of the dead."
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

26. "Now I know what we were trying to stand for, and what I believe we did stand for: the possibility that among the world's wars and sufferings two people could love each other for a long time, until death and beyond, and could make a place for each other that would be a part of their love, as their love for each other would be a way of loving their place. This love would be one of the acts of greater love that holds and cherishes all the world. By a long detour through the hell that humans have learned to make, Nathan had come home. He came back to Port William, and to me, to the home and household we made, to his family and friends, to our children yet to be born. And of course, he came back to loss, to the absence of those who did not come back, and of those who would leave."
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

27. "Most people now are looking for a 'better place,' which means that a lot of them will end up in a worse one. I think this is what Nathan learned from his time in the army and the war. He saw a lot of places, and he came home. I think he gave up the idea that there is a better place somewhere else. There is no 'better place' than this, not in this world."
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

28. "As I said before, the marriage had troubles in it, which is easy to say. . . When we were both mad, we would have something to say to each other. It wasn’t love, but it beat indifference, and sooner or later, mostly sooner, it would come to love. . . . We had often enough the pleasure of making up, because we fell out often enough. But now, looking back, it is hard to say why we fell out, or what we fell out about, or why whatever we fell out about ever mattered. But even then it was something hard to say. One time we were fussing and Nathan looked at me right in the middle of it and said, Hannah, what in the hell got us started on this? I said, I don’t know. Well, I don’t know either, he said. So I think I’m going to quit. Well, go ahead and quit, I said. He said, I already did. And that was the last word that time."
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

29. "To be the mother of a grown-up child means that you don’t have a child anymore, and that is sad. When the grown-up child leaves home, that is sadder. I wanted Margaret to go to college, but when she actually went away it broke my heart. Maybe if you had enough children you could get used to those departures, but, having only three, I never did. I felt them like amputations. Something I needed was missing. Sometimes, even now, when I come into this house and it sounds empty, before I think I will wonder, Where are they?"
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

30. "And then the truth came to him, and he faced it. After that, he was loitering, putting us off, giving himself a chance to be captured by his death before he could be captured by the doctors and the hospitals and the treatments and the tests and the rest of it. When he consented to go to the doctor he was only consenting for the rest of us to be told what he already knew. He was dying. . . I understood him. He wanted to die at home. He didn’t want to be going someplace all the time for the sake of a hopeless hope. He wanted to die as himself out of his own life. He didn’t want his death to be the end of a technological process. . . . He didn’t last long after that. Death had become his friend. They say that people, if they want to, can let themselves slip away when the time comes. I think that is what Nathan did. He was not false or greedy. When the time came to go, he went. Lyda and Andy Cartlett and I were with him when he died. It was about supper time, still daylight, the sun and the wind in the perfect new maple leaves outside the window. A dove called, somewhere off toward town a screen door slammed, and he was gone."
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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Hannah Coulter Quotes

“Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery. ”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“Want of imagination makes things unreal enough to be destroyed. By imagination I mean knowledge and love. I mean compassion. People of power kill children, the old send the young to die, because they have no imagination. They have power. Can you have power and imagination at the same time? Can you kill people you don’t know and have compassion for them at the same time?”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“You think you will never forget any of this, you will remember it always just the way it was. But you can't remember it the way it was. To know it, you have to be living in the presence of it right as it is happening. It can return only by surprise. Speaking of these things tells you that there are no words for them that are equal to them or that can restore them to your mind. And so you have a life that you are living only now, now and now and now, gone before you can speak of it, and you must be thankful for living day by day, moment by moment, in this presence.
But you have a life too that you remember. It stays with you. YOu have lived a life in the breath and pulse and living light of the present, and your memories of it, remember now, are of a different life in a different world and time. When you remember the past, you are not remembering it as it was. You are remembering it as it is. It is a vision or a dream, present with you in the present, alive with you in the only time you are alive.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“I took her into bed with me and propped myself up with pillows against the headboard to let her nurse. As she nursed and the milk came, she began a little low contented sort of singing. I would feel milk and love flowing from me to her as once it had flowed to me. It emptied me. As the baby fed, I seemed slowly to grow empty of myself, as if in the presence of that long flow of love even grief could not stand.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“The chance you had is the life you've got. You can make complaints about what people, including you, make of their lives after they have got them, and about what people make of other people's lives, ...but you mustn't wish for another life. You mustn't want to be somebody else.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“The living can't quit living because the world has turned terrible and people they love and need are killed. They can't because they don't. The light that shines into darkness and never goes out calls them on into life. It calls them back again into the great room. It calls them into their bodies and into the world, into whatever the world will require. It calls them into work and pleasure, goodness and beauty, and the company of other loved ones.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“We weren't allowing our hopes to become expectations. Expectations are tempting, pleasant, maybe necessary. They are scary too, once you have had some experience. They are not necessarily and not always a bucket of smoke, but they can be and are even likely to be.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“When you are old you can look back and see yourself when you are young. It is almost like looking down from heaven. And you see yourself as a young woman, just a big girl really, half awake to the world. You see yourself happy, holding in your arms a good, decent, gentle, beloved young man with the blood keen in his veins, who before long is going to disappear, just disappear, into a storm of hate and flying metal and fire. And you just don't know it.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“Living without expectations is hard but, when you can do it, good. Living without hope is harder, and that is bad. You have got to have hope, and you mustn’t shirk it. Love, after all, 'hopeth all things.' But maybe you must learn, and it is hard learning, not to hope out loud, especially for other people. You must not let your hope turn into expectation.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“Most people now are looking for a better place, which means that a lot of them will end up in a worse one. I think this is what Nathan learned from his time in the army and the war. He saw a lot of places, and he came home. I think he gave up the idea that there is a better place somewhere else.

There is no “better place” than this, not in this world. And it is by the place we’ve got, and our love for it and our keeping of it, that this world is joined to Heaven. . . .

“Something better! Everybody’s talking about something better. The important thing is to feel good and be proud of what you got, don’t matter if it ain’t nothing but a log pen.”

Those thoughts come to me in the night, those thoughts and thoughts of becoming sick or helpless, of the nursing home, of lingering death. I gnaw again the old bones of the fear of what is to come, and grieve . . . over . . . (those) who have gone before. Finally, as a gift, as a mercy, I remember to pray, “thy will be done,” and then again I am free and can go to sleep.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“I have this love for Mattie. It was formed in me as he himself was formed. It has his shape, you might say. He fits it. He fits into it as he fits into his clothes. He will always fit into it. When he gets out of the car and I meet him and hug him, there he is, him himself, something of my very own forever, and my love for him goes all around him just as it did when he was a baby and a little boy and a young man grown.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“The way of education leads away from home. That is what we learned from our children’s education.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“Time doesn't stop. Your life doesn't stop and wait until you get ready to start living it.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“We had, you could say, everything but money -- Grandmam and I did, anyhow. We had each other and our work, and not much time to think of what we didn't have.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“I began to trust the world again, not to give me what I wanted, for I saw that it could not be trusted to do that, but to give unforeseen goods and pleasures that I had not thought to want.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“You think winter will never end, and then, when you don't expect it, when you have almost forgotten it, warmth comes and a different light.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“To be the mother of a grown-up child means that you don’t have a child anymore, and that is sad. When the grown-up child leaves home, that is sadder. I wanted Margaret to go to college, but when she actually went away it broke my heart. Maybe if you had enough children you could get used to those departures, but, having only three, I never did. I felt them like amputations. Something I needed was missing. Sometimes, even now, when I come into this house and it sounds empty, before I think I will wonder, “Where are they?”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“Now I know what we were trying to stand for, and what I believe we did stand for: the possibility that among the world's wars and sufferings two people could love each other for a long time, until death and beyond, and could make a place for each other that would be a part of their love, as their love for each other would be a way of loving their place. This love would be one of the acts of greater love that holds and cherishes all the world.
By a long detour through the hell that humans have learned to make, Nathan had come home. He came back to Port William, and to me, to the home and household we made, to his family and friends, to our children yet to be born. And of course, he came back to loss, to the absence of those who did not come back, and of those who would leave.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“One of the attractions of moving away into te life of employment, I think, is being disconnected and free, unbothered by membership. It is a life of beginnings without memories, but i is a life too that ends without being remembered.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“Sometimes...I wander about in this house that Nathan and I renewed, that is now aged and worn by our life in it. How many steps, wearing the thresholds? I look at it all again. Sometimes it fills to the brim with sorrow, which signifies the joy that has been here, and the love. It is entirely a gift." (158)”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“I began to know my story then. Like everybody's, it was going to be the story of living in the absence of the dead. What is the thread that holds it all together? Grief, I thought for a while. And grief is there sure enough, just about all the way through. From the time I was a girl I have never been far from it. But grief is not a force that has not power to hold. You only bear it. Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“Happiness had a way of coming to you and making you sad. You would think, 'There seems to have been a time when I deserved such a happiness and needed it, like a day's pay, and now I have no use for it at all.' How can you be happy, how can you live, when all the things that make you happy grieve you nearly to death?”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“I realized that the story of even so small a place can never be completely told and can never be finished. It is eternal, always here and now, and going on forever.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“The chance you had is the life you’ve got. You can make complaints about what people, including you, make of their lives after they have got them, and about what people make of other people’s lives, even about your children being gone, but you mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be somebody else. What you must do is this: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks.” I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“To know that I was known by a new living being, who had not existed until she was made in my body by my desire and brought forth into the world by my pain and strength—that changed me. My heart, which seemed to have had only loss and grief in it before, now had joy in it also.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“The room of love is another world. You go there wearing no watch, watching no clock. It is the world without end, so small that two people can hold it in their arms, and yet it is bigger than world on world, for it contains the longing of all things to be together, and to be at rest together. You come together to the day's end, weary and sore, troubled and afraid. You take it all in your arms, it goes away, and there you are where giving and taking are the same, and you live a little while entirely in a gift. The words have all been said, all permissions given, and you free in the place that is the two of you together. What could be more heavenly than to have desire and satisfaction in the same room?”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“It is hard to say what it means to be at work and thinking of a person you loved and love still who did that same work before you and who taught you to do it. It is a comfort ever and always, like hearing the rhyme come when you are singing a song.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“At first, as the months went by, it was shameful to me when I would realize that without my consent, almost without my knowledge, something had made me happy. And then I learned to think, when those times would come, 'Well, go ahead. If you're happy, then be happy.' No big happiness came to me yet, but little happinessess did come, and they came from ordinary pleasures in ordinary things; the baby, sunlight, breezes, animals and birds, daily work, rest when I was tired, food, strands of fog in the hollows early in the morning, butterflies, flowers. The flowers didn't have to be dahlias and roses either, but just the weeds blooming in the fields, the daisies and the yarrow. I began to trust the world again, not to give me what I wanted, for I saw that it could not be trusted to do that, but to give unforeseen goods and pleasures that I had not thought to want.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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“Living without expectations is hard but, when you can do it, good. Living without hope is harder, and that is bad. You have got to have hope, and you mustn’t shirk it. Love, after all, “hopeth all things.” But maybe you must learn, and it is hard learning, not to hope out loud, especially for other people. You must not let your hope turn into expectation.

But you have a life too that you remember. It stays with you. You have lived a life in the breath and pulse and living light of the present, and your memories of it, remembered now, are of a different life in a different world and time. When you remember the past, you are not remembering it as it was. You are remembering it as it is. It is a vision or a dream, present with you in the present, alive with you in the only time you are alive. . .
Even old, your husband is the young man you remember now. Even dead, he is the man you remember, not as he was but as he is, alive still in your love. Death is a sort of lens, though I used to think of it as a wall or a shut door. It changes things and makes them clear. Maybe it is the truest way of knowing this dream, this brief and timeless life. . .

As I have told it over, the past visible again in the present, the dead living still in their absence, this dream of time seems to come to rest in eternity. My mind, I think, has started to become, it is close to being, the room of love for the absent are present, the dead are alive, time is eternal, and all the creatures prosperous. The room of love is the love that holds us all, and it is not ours. It goes back before we were born. It goes all the way back. It is Heaven’s. Or it is Heaven, and we are in it only by willingness.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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Hannah Coulter Quotes.

11. "I have this love for Mattie. It was formed in me as he himself was formed. It has his shape, you might say. He fits it. He fits into it as he fits into his clothes. He will always fit into it. When he gets out of the car and I meet him and hug him, there he is, him himself, something of my very own forever, and my love for him goes all around him just as it did when he was a baby and a little boy and a young man grown."
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

12. "One of the attractions of moving away into te life of employment, I think, is being disconnected and free, unbothered by membership. It is a life of beginnings without memories, but i is a life too that ends without being remembered."
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

13. "We had, you could say, everything but money -- Grandmam and I did, anyhow. We had each other and our work, and not much time to think of what we didn't have."
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

14. "Most people now are looking for a better place, which means that a lot of them will end up in a worse one. I think this is what Nathan learned from his time in the army and the war. He saw a lot of places, and he came home. I think he gave up the idea that there is a better place somewhere else. There is no better place than this, not in this world. And it is by the place we’ve got, and our love for it and our keeping of it, that this world is joined to Heaven. . . . Something better! Everybody’s talking about something better. The important thing is to feel good and be proud of what you got, don’t matter if it ain’t nothing but a log pen. Those thoughts come to me in the night, those thoughts and thoughts of becoming sick or helpless, of the nursing home, of lingering death. I gnaw again the old bones of the fear of what is to come, and grieve . . . over . . . (those) who have gone before. Finally, as a gift, as a mercy, I remember to pray, thy will be done, and then again I am free and can go to sleep."
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

15. "The chance you had is the life you’ve got. You can make complaints about what people, including you, make of their lives after they have got them, and about what people make of other people’s lives, even about your children being gone, but you mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be somebody else. What you must do is this: Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks. I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions."
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

16. "I began to trust the world again, not to give me what I wanted, for I saw that it could not be trusted to do that, but to give unforeseen goods and pleasures that I had not thought to want."
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

17. "The way of education leads away from home. That is what we learned from our children’s education."
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

18. "Sometimes...I wander about in this house that Nathan and I renewed, that is now aged and worn by our life in it. How many steps, wearing the thresholds? I look at it all again. Sometimes it fills to the brim with sorrow, which signifies the joy that has been here, and the love. It is entirely a gift." (158)"
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

19. ". . . but we didn’t speak of what was bothering us the most. Maybe we didn’t need to. It couldn’t have been talked out. It had to be worn out."
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

20. "Living without expectations is hard but, when you can do it, good. Living without hope is harder, and that is bad. You have got to have hope, and you mustn’t shirk it. Love, after all, hopeth all things. But maybe you must learn, and it is hard learning, not to hope out loud, especially for other people. You must not let your hope turn into expectation. But you have a life too that you remember. It stays with you. You have lived a life in the breath and pulse and living light of the present, and your memories of it, remembered now, are of a different life in a different world and time. When you remember the past, you are not remembering it as it was. You are remembering it as it is. It is a vision or a dream, present with you in the present, alive with you in the only time you are alive. . . Even old, your husband is the young man you remember now. Even dead, he is the man you remember, not as he was but as he is, alive still in your love. Death is a sort of lens, though I used to think of it as a wall or a shut door. It changes things and makes them clear. Maybe it is the truest way of knowing this dream, this brief and timeless life. . . As I have told it over, the past visible again in the present, the dead living still in their absence, this dream of time seems to come to rest in eternity. My mind, I think, has started to become, it is close to being, the room of love for the absent are present, the dead are alive, time is eternal, and all the creatures prosperous. The room of love is the love that holds us all, and it is not ours. It goes back before we were born. It goes all the way back. It is Heaven’s. Or it is Heaven, and we are in it only by willingness."
- Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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31 Hannah Coulter Quotes & Sayings with Wallpapers & Posters - Quotes.Pub

Here you will find all the famous Hannah Coulter quotes. There are more than 31+ quotes in our Hannah Coulter quotes collection. We have collected all of them and made stunning Hannah Coulter wallpapers & posters out of those quotes. You can use this wallpapers & posters on mobile, desktop, print and frame them or share them on the various social media platforms. You can download the quotes images in various different sizes for free. In the below list you can find quotes by some of the famous authors like Wendell Berry

Living without expectations is hard but, when you can do it, good. Living without hope is harder, and that is bad. You have got to have hope, and you mustn’t shirk it. Love, after all, “hopeth all things.” But maybe you must learn, and it is hard learning, not to hope out loud, . . . Read more

-Wendell Berry

Living without expectations is hard but, when you can do it, good. Living without hope is harder, and that is bad. You have got to have hope, and you mustn’t shirk it. Love, after all, “hopeth all things.” But maybe you must learn, and it is hard learning, not to hope out loud, . . . Read more

-Wendell Berry

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Coulter quotes hannah

I love books. All kinds of books. Some books prove especially meaningful in specific seasons. Some books are timeless. There are books you read slowly, chipping away over time, and there are books you want to read in one sitting. Some books you never finish. Some books you read once. And some books you’ll read many times over a lifetime.

While my favorite non-fiction book frequently changes, I’d have to say Hannah Coulter is my favorite piece of fiction. I’ve read or listened to it three times in the last four years. It’s the story of one woman’s life as she looks back and remembers belonging to a place and a people, held together by life’s threads of love and loss, grief and gratitude. It covers the span from the 1920s and ends in the new millennium.

As I’m writing a book on thanksgiving, this story helped me as the reader see what it looks like to receive all of life with gratitude, as given and a miracle. I hope to write more about its themes and key elements, but here are some of my favorite quotes.

“Time doesn’t stop. Your life doesn’t stop and wait until you get ready to start living it.” (44)

“And so I learned about grief, and about the absence and emptiness that for a long time make grief unforgettable.” (7)

“I was grateful because I knew, even in my fear and grief, that my life had been filled with gifts.” (52)

“You can’t give yourself over to love for somebody without giving yourself over to suffering.” (171)

 

“You have had this life and no other. You have had this life with this man and no other. What would have it been to have had a different life with a different man? You will never know. That makes the world forever a mystery, and you will just have to be content for it to be that way.” (109)

“Kindness kept us alive…Love held us. Kindness held us.” (50, 51)

“I began to know my story then. Like everybody’s, it was going to be the story of living in the absence of the dead. What is the thread that holds it all together? Grief, I thought for a while. And grief is there sure enough, just about all the way through. From the time I was a girl I have never been far from it. But grief is not a force and has no power to hold. You only bear it. Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery.” (51)

“And so I have to say that another of the golden threads is gratitude. All through that bad time, when Virgil’s absence was wearing into us, when ‘missing’ kept renaming itself more and more insistently as ‘dead’ and ‘lost forever,’ I was yet grateful. Sometimes I was grateful because I knew I ought to be, sometimes because I wanted to be, and sometimes a sweet thankfulness came to me on its own, like a singing from somewhere out in the dark. I was grateful because I knew, even in my fear and grief, that my life had been filled with gifts.” (52)

“We had made it past hard changes, and all of us were changed, but we were together.” (80)

“I gnaw again the old bones of the fear of what is to come, and griever with a sisterly grief over Grandmam and Mrs. Feltner and the other old women who have gone before. Finally, as a gift, as a mercy, I remember to pray, ‘Thy will be done,’ and then again I am free and can go to sleep.” (83)

“The chance you had is the life you’ve got. You can make complaints about what people, including you, make of their lives after they have got them, and about what people make of other people’s lives, even about your children being gone, but you mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be somebody else. What you must do is this: ‘Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks.’ I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.” (113)

“And so you have a life that you are living only now, now and now and now, gone before you can speak of it, and you must be thankful for living day by day, moment by moment, in this presence. But you have a life too that you remember. It stays with you. You have lived a life in the breath and pulse and living light of the present, and your memories of it, remembered now, are of a different life in a different world and time. When you remember the past, you are not remembering it as it was. You are remembering it as it is. It is a vision or a dream, present with you in the present, alive with you in the only time you are alive.” (148)

Speaking about her husband going missing in action (presumably dead) in war.
“The pleasures that came then had a way of reminding you that they had been pleasures once upon a time, when it seemed that you had a right to them. Happiness had a way of coming to you and making you sad. You would think, ‘There seems to have been a time when I deserved such a happiness and needed it, like a day’s pay, and now I have no use for it at all.’ How can you be happy, how can you live, when all the things that make you happy grieve you nearly to death?” (49)

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Hannah Coulter > Quotes

“You think you will never forget any of this, you will remember it always just the way it was. But you can't remember it the way it was. To know it, you have to be living in the presence of it right as it is happening. It can return only by surprise. Speaking of these things tells you that there are no words for them that are equal to them or that can restore them to your mind. And so you have a life that you are living only now, now and now and now, gone before you can speak of it, and you must be thankful for living day by day, moment by moment, in this presence.
But you have a life too that you remember. It stays with you. YOu have lived a life in the breath and pulse and living light of the present, and your memories of it, remember now, are of a different life in a different world and time. When you remember the past, you are not remembering it as it was. You are remembering it as it is. It is a vision or a dream, present with you in the present, alive with you in the only time you are alive.”
Sours: https://readershook.com/book/hannah-coulter/quotes

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I actually finished Hannah Coulter2 weeks ago, but I marked so many passages with my porcupine methodthat I haven't taken the time to sort through them and type them out. Needless to say, this book is memorable - beautiful and poignant, idealistic, and at the same time realistic, reflective and timeless.

Parts of it could have been written by my grandmother, who was raised in rural Kentucky until she moved to Ohio where she and my grandfather, whom I never knew, bought a farm and paid it off in just a few years, just like Nathan and Hannah Coulter did (119). My mom grew up on that farm, and I was raised there too, though it wasn't a working farm by that time. I understand the idea of place that figures so prominently in Hannah Coulter's mind. I miss the place that that Ohio farm was in my childhood. I know I'll never live there again, but it will always be a place of peace for me, a memory of quietness and openness that I hope to find somewhere again. Somehow looking into neighbors' backyards in our subdivision just isn't the same as looking out over a ten acre field of corn or soybeans, or watching deer traverse the one acre garden that comprised the backyard, or driving down the long lane to see my tree-y tree (a perfectly formed maple) emerge around the bend.

But this book not only evoked memories of my family's homestead, it was a challenge as well - a challenge to find that place of peace (like Madeleine L'Engle's A Circle of Quiet) even in the subdivision (see quote from p. 83 below), to create a life of purpose for my family, to help my children learn to value what is really important and at the same time give them the freedom to find their own place. These were some of the ideas that we talked about when Captive Thoughts Book Clubdiscussed Hannah Coulterin November.

I think the only part I didn't particularly enjoy about this book were Hannah's chronicling how her children had all left their place. Like I said above, I think that children need to have the freedom to find their own place, and a meaningful place does not necessarily need to be in the country or the family farm.

But without further ado, the memorable quotations (all from Berry, Wendell. Hannah Coulter.(Washington, D.C.: Shoemaker Hoard, 2004.)~

"It is our story, for I lived it with him. It is the story of our place in our time..." (5)

Describing her father: "He was a humorous, good-natured man, maybe because he hoped for little and expected less and took his satisfactions where he found them." (8)

"Grandmam was the authority and head worker...She was always busy. She never backed off from anything because it was hard." (10)

"She wore dresses. Being a widow, she wore them black. Being a woman of her time, she wore them long. The girls of her day, I think, must have been like well-wrapped gifts, to be opened by their husbands on their wedding night, a complete surprise. 'Well! What's this?'" (10)

"Grandmam, as I have seen in looking back, was the decider of my fate. She shaped my life, without of course knowing what my life would be. She taught me many things that I was going to need to know, without either of us knowing I would need to know them. She made the connections that made my life..." (11)

"'All women is brothers,' Burley Coulter used to say...as usual, he was telling the truth. Or part of it." (22)

"They were men with long memories who loved farming and whose lives had been given to ideals: good land, good grass, good animals, good crops, good work." (23)

"Virgil spoke of that as something old in the world that caused an ancient happiness in him. He was trying to show me the shape of his life, and what might become the shape of it...We were coming together into the presence of something good that was possible in this world. I have to see it now as a sad hope, because we were able to use up so little of it, but it was no less a beautiful one." (28) What a beautiful way to describe marriage - "something good that was possible."

"The river ran below us, its double row of shore trees swinging in against the hill on our side, leaving a wide bottomland on the other. It needed a long look because you had to think of how old it was, and of how many voices had spoken and hushed again beside it." (34)

"Someday there will be a new heaven and a new earth and a new Port William coming down from heaven, adorned as a bride for her husband, and whoever has known her before will know her then." (43)

On Sundays during the war: "And we would hear also a sermon in which poor Brother Preston would struggle again with his terrible duty and need to bring comfort to the comfortless, to say something in public that could answer the private fear and grief that were all around him, and he would mostly fail. We would shake his hand at the door as we went out, trying, I suppose, to console him for his wish to help what only could be endured." (46)

"To be in love with Virgil was to be there, in love, with his parents, his family, his place, his baby. When he became lost to our living love in this world, by knowing what it meant to me I couldn't help knowing what it meant to the others." (50) This view of marriage as an extended community is all but lost today.

"I began to know my story then. Like everybody else's, it was going to be the story of the living in the absence of the dead...Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery...And so I have to say that another of the golden threads is gratitude." (51-52)

"To know that I was known by a new living being, who had not existed until she was made in my body by my desire and brought forth into the world by my pain and strength - that changed me....I would feel milk and love flowing from me to her as once it had flowed to me. It emptied me. As the baby fed, I seemed slowly to grow empty of myself, as if in the presence of that long flow of love even grief could not stand." (54-55)

"My life with Virgil was a romance, because it never had a chance to become anything else...My life with Nathan turned out to be a long life, an actual marriage, with trouble in it...Troubles came, as they were bound to do, as the promise we made had warned us that they would. I can remember the troubles and speak of them, but not to complain. I am beginning again to speak of my gratitude." (62)

"I was aware of that look a long time before I was ready to look back. I knew that when I did I would be a goner. We both would be." (65)

"Your first love for somebody can last, and this one did, but it changes too after promises have been made and time has passed and knowledge has come." (66)

"Now I know what we were trying to stand for, and what I believe we did stand for: the possibility that among the world's wars and sufferings two people could love each other for a very long time, until death and beyond, and could make a place for each other that would be a part of their love, as their love for each other would be a way of loving their place. This love would be one of the acts of the greater love that holds and cherishes all the world." (67-68)

"I began the wish, that stayed with me for the rest of his [her father-in-law, Jarrat Coulter's] life, to hug him for the sweetness I had learned was in him. I never did, for fear of embarrassing him. Now that I am old, I know I could have done it, it would have been all right, and I'm sorry I didn't." (79)

"And so I had put myself in Nathan's hands, mindful also that he had put himself in mine. We were each other's welcomer and each other's guest. And so we had come to our place." (81)

"A lifetime's knowledge shimmers on the face of the land in the mind of a person who knows. The history of a place is the mind of an old man or an old woman who knows it, walking over it, and it is never fully handed on to anybody else, but has been mostly lost, generation after generation..." (82)

"Most people now are looking for 'a better place,' which means that a lot of them will end up in a worse one...There is no 'better place' than this, not in thisworld. And it is by the place we've got, and our love for it and our keeping of it, that this world is joined to Heaven." (83)

"Nathan's rules from the start were never to plow too much in any year, never to grow more grain than we needed to feed our own livestock, and never to have too much livestock." (84) No temptation to "bigger barns" here.

"The stream and the woods don't care if you love them. The place doesn't care if you love it. But for your own sake you had better love it. For the sake of all else you love, you had better love it." (85)

"I have to quiet myself before I can hear the quiet of the place...But I listen and wait, and at last it comes. It is an old quiet, only deepened by the sound of the creek, a bird singing, or a barking squirrel." (87)

"And I remember especially how much we belonged together then, how complete we seemed with our fire and our meal, what a unit we were, and the pleasure of it." (90)

"The work was freely given in exchange for work freely given. There was no bookkeeping, no accounting, no settling up. What you owed was considered paid when you had done what needed doing. Every account was paid in full by the understanding that when we were needed we would go, and when we had need the others, or enough of them, would come." (94)

"The making of the place was the thing that ruled over everything else, for we were living from the place...You can see that it is hard to mark the difference between our life and our place, our place and ourselves." (106)

"We had differences...There were the differences of nature and character that were sometimes happy and sometimes not. Some of the things that most endeared Nathan to me - his quietness, his love of his work, his determination - were the things that could sometimes make me maddest at him." (107)

"But now, looking back, it is hard to say why we fell out, or what we fell out about, or why whatever we fell out about ever mattered. Even then it was sometimes hard to say." (108)

"You have had this life and no other. You have had this life with this man and no other. What would it have been to have had a different life with a different man? You will never know. That makes the world forever a mystery, and you will just have to be content for it to be that way." (109)

"The room of love is another world...It is the world without end, so small that two people can hold it in their arms, and yet it is bigger than worlds on worlds, for it contains the longing of all things to be together, and to be at rest together...You take it all into your arms, it goes away, and there you are where giving and taking are the same, and you life a little while entirely in a gift." (110)

"The way of education leads away from home. That is what we learned from our children's education." (112) As a lover of education, I must protest that it is not necessarily a bad thing that education leads one from one place to another. Good places can be found in many ways.

"The chance you had is the life you've got. You can make complaints about what people, including you, make of their lives after they have got them, and about what people make of other people's lives...but you mustn't wish for another life. You mustn't want to be somebody else. What you must do is this: 'Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.' I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions." (113)

"We had a debt on the farm, of course, for what seemed to us a lot of money in those days, but we went straight to work to make it worth more than Nathan had paid for it. We paid off that debt in nine years, and from then on, as Nathan liked to say, we never owed a nickel to anybody." (119)

On the relationship between her son Mattie and husband Nathan: "They weren't always at odds, but when they were the space between them was occupied by, of course, me. And of course they complained to me about each other. And of course, loving them both, I tried to defend them to each other. The good part was that I coulddefend them to each other." (122)

"I have this love for Mattie. It was formed in me as he himself was formed. It has his shape, you might say. He fits it. He fits into it as he fits into his clothes. He will always fit into it. When he gets out of the car and I meet him and hug him, there he is, him himself, something of my own forever, and my love for him goes all around him just as it did when he was a baby and a little boy and a young man grown. He fits my love, but he no longer fits the place or our life or the knowledge of anything here." (123-124)

"His children...when they are here they don't know where they are. And maybe it is not possible for them to find out. They don't want to know...they don't know enough to like it." (124-125)

"I don't think there is an argument for being a farmer. There are only two reasons to farm: because you have to, and because you love to. The ones who choose to farm choose for love. Necessity ends the argument, and so does love." (129)

"But there is some pleasure in expectations too, and I should not be regretful about ours. After your expectations have gone their way and your future is getting along the best it can as an honest blank, you shape your life according to what it is." (131)

"Caleb is incomplete...He is always trying to make up the difference between the life he has and the life he imagines he might have had." (131)

"One of the attractions of moving away into the life of employment, I think, is being disconnected and free, unbothered by membership. It is a life of beginnings without memories, but it is a life too that ends without being remembered. The life of membership with all its cumbers is traded away for the life of employment that makes itself free by forgetting you clean as a whistle when you are not of any more use." (133)

"...yet for a while there I would think that this, this right now, was all the world that I held in my arms. It was like falling in love, only more than that; we knew too much by then for it to be only that. It was knowing that love was what it was, and life would not complete it and death would not stop it. While we held each other and our old desire came upon us, eternity flew into time like a lighting dove." (134)

"He said, 'Margaret, my good Margaret, we're going to live right on.' I heard him say that only three of four times in all his life. He said it only when he knew that living right on was going to be hard." (141)

"So how come he ended up leaving his wife and boy, talking about 'fulfillment' and his 'need to be free'? 'It's the time,' I thought. 'The time wants men to be as silly in character as they are by nature.'" (142)

"...he would have his hair in some odd arrangement or color and a ring in his ear and a stud in his nose - I guess to show his father he didn't give a damn, which of course he did or he wouldn't have been trying so hard to act like he didn't." (145)

"Living without expectations is hard but, when you can do it, good. Living without hope is harder, and that is bad. You have got to have hope, and you mustn't shirk it. Love, after all, 'hopeth all things.' But maybe you must learn, and it is hard learning, not to hope out loud, especially for other people. You must not let your hope turn into expectation." (146)

"The world is so full and abundant it is like a pregnant woman carrying a child in one arm and leading another by the hand. Every puddle in the lane is ringed with sipping butterflied that fly up in flutter when you walk past in the late morning on your way to get the mail." (147-148)

"You think you will never forget any of this, you will remember it always just the way it was. But you can't remember it the way it was. To know it, you have to be living in the presence of it right as it is happening. It can return only by surprise." (148)

"Compared to nearly everybody else, the Branches have led a sort of futureless life. They have planned and provided as much as they needed to, but they take little thought for the morrow. They aren't going any place, they aren't getting ready to become anything but what they are, and so their lives are not fretful and hankering." (152)

"Sometimes...I wander about in this house that Nathan and I renewed, that is now aged and worn by our life in it. How many steps, wearing the thresholds? I look at it all again. Sometimes it fills to the brim with sorrow, which signifies the joy that has been here, and the love. It is entirely a gift." (158)

"My steadfast comfort for fifty years and more had been to know that I was on his mind. Whatever was happening between us, I knew I was on his mind, and that was where I wanted to be." (160)

"His life was being driven by a kind of flywheel. [Mattie] had submitted to it and accepted it. It was turning fast. To slow it down or stop it and come to a place that was moving with the motion only of time and loss and slow grief was more, that day, than he could imagine." (164)

"I had to think of all it had cost, of all the engines that had run, just to give one man a few minutes of ordinary grief at his dad's funeral, but I was completely glad to see him...it was as it should have been." (165)

"After she left, the house slowly filled up with silence. Nathan's absence came into it and filled it. I suffered my hard joy, I gave my thanks, I cried my cry. And then I turned again to that other world I had taught myself to know, the world that is neither past nor to come, the present world where we are alive together and love keeps us." (166)

"I began this practice of sitting sometimes long hours into the night, telling over this story, this life, that even when it was only mine was wholly Nathan's and mine because for the term of this world we were wholly each other's. We were each other's chance to live in the room of love where we could be known well enough to be spared. We were each other's gift." (168)

About WWII: "It was a world where no place was safe, where you or your friends could be killed in any place at any minute." (169)

"You can't give yourself over to love for somebody without giving yourself over to suffering. You can't give yourself to love for a soldier without giving yourself to his suffering in war. It is tis body of our suffering that Christ was born into, to suffer it Himself and to fill it with light, so that beyond the sufferig we can imagine Easter morning and the peace of God on little earthly homelands such as Port William and the farming villages of Okinawa." (171)

"And so I came to know, as I had not known before, what this place of ours had meant to him [Nathan]. I knew, as I had not known before, what I had meant to him. Our life in our place had been a benediction to him, but he had seen it always within a circle of fire that might have closed upon it." (173)

"[This homeland] was as familiar as my old headscarf and coatand shoes, as my body. I have lived from it all these years. When I am buried in it at last my flesh will be the same as it, and hardly a difference made. But I have seen it change. It has changed, it is changing, and it is threatened." (179)

"I want to leave here openhanded, with only the ancient blessing, 'Good-bye. My love to you all.'" (185)
Sours: http://linesfromthepage.blogspot.com/2008/12/hannah-coulter-by-wendell-berry.html


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