Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘quotes

Sunday Meditations on a John Wesley Quote

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I have been taken with this John Wesley quote for a while now. As it’s Sunday, let’s dive in!

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The above quote resonated with me the first time I heard it, which was sometime in junior high school. So I’d like to dissect this quote, starting with “do all the good you can.”

Too many of us think we can’t do any good at all, so we don’t do anything. And that’s not wise, nor is it smart. We can all do something to help our fellow man, woman, and/or child…it may be something small, like carrying in some groceries if you’re able-bodied and the person you’re helping isn’t. Or it could be something big, like helping someone fix a car when they can’t do it themselves but desperately need it.

(Note I’m talking about individual big things rather than societal big things. But I will get there.)

The key words there are “good” and “can.” Do your best, always; do what you can, always. And if you are in distress, and all you can do is offer good thoughts one day, do that. If you can offer a shoulder to cry on (even a virtual one, these days), that’s even better.

“But Barb,” you say. (Yes, I can hear you.) “What if I truly can’t do anything? I’m in a nursing home. Or I’m in the hospital. Or I’m just…tired, I guess.”

If you’re in a nursing home or in a hospital, the best thing you can do is to heal up. But while you do that, speak kindly to the nurses, doctors, and the staff. Encourage other patients, if you see them. Continue to learn whatever you can learn, via the TV or books or magazines or computer. And again, heal up.

If you’re just tired — and I know the feeling, because I often feel this way myself — you have to look at it a different way.

If you have had an abysmal day, just one from the Hells, and there’s nothing at all you can think of to do that’s any good for anyone, the best thing you can do is to calm down. Talk to a friend. Read a good book. Watch a movie that makes you laugh. Listen to some music that moves you. Whatever works, but do something to get your mind off these problems that are plaguing you.

Anyway, on to the next part of the quote, which is “by all the means you can.” Here, I think John Wesley was talking about the various ways you can help someone. Yes, you can help financially, but you can help emotionally, you can help physically sometimes, you can help spiritually (often we need that the most no matter what it looks like from the outside), and you can do it in whatever fashion you want.

The main thing is to not give in to despair. (Or if you need to, use my late husband’s Zen Buddhist trick and give in to it for five minutes. Then say to yourself, “Self, I’ve heard you. Now let’s get on.” I have used this trick frequently in recent days, and I know it works.)

Wesley here is saying again that you can make a difference by whatever means necessary. And that’s important.

The next part of the quote is “in all the ways you can.” I have already covered this, to an extent, in my previous paragraphs, but I will reiterate for the record: do whatever you need to do to help others in whatever possible ways you have available. Even if they seem small, they can do wonders.

For example, if you are at the grocery store in these days of Covid-19, you can be extra-nice to the cashiers. (Or just polite if you’re normally rude, I guess. Though I would hope none of my readers are rude on a regular basis. Yes, that’s a small joke. Probably very small. Moving on…) You can also help others get their groceries to the car if the clerks are too busy to do it or are unable to do it. You can be polite in the parking lot and make sure you give extra space and time to people walking to and from the store, and pay extra-close attention to the various cars in the lot because not everyone else is.

These are all small things. But they add up. And the clerks will appreciate someone who is not rude or abrupt. The people you deal with, in or out of the car, will appreciate that you are paying attention whether they realize it or not. And if you are helping someone get their stuff to the car, that is vitally important and will probably have made someone’s day.

Small things do add up, you know.

Wesley goes on to say “in all the places you can.” I think what he meant by this is for people not to stop thinking about ways to help others when they walk out the door of the church. If you can help someone in the store, do it. If you can help someone on the road, do that. If you can help a friend by listening even if it’s the tenth time you’ve gone over the same subject and you’re just tired of it — but you can rein in your frustration, and listen and empathize anyway — these things matter.

The next part of Wesley’s quote is “at all the times you can.” I think Wesley put it this way because of what I said before about “days from the Hells.” But it could also be that he dealt with too many people who thought the only time to be charitable was when they were actually in church. And once they walked out the door, that was it for charity for the week, almost as if they had “banked” the charity by going to church and enduring the hour-long sermon. (Or whatever.)

The message here is simple. We are all children of God/dess. (Or Deity. Or “Hey, you, big guy in the sky.” Call Deity what you wish; I don’t think it matters much to Deity.) We are all fallible, imperfect, mortal, all that — just as I’ve said in many other blogs — but along with that fallible, imperfect, mortal stuff comes some pretty good basic instincts. We, most of us, want to help others; we want to do good, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it makes us feel better to do it. (Maybe that was a biological thing Deity built into us, for all I know.)

And when we deal with those who just don’t seem to care, or don’t seem to want to do the right thing to help their fellow man (or woman or child), it can be frustrating to know that you’re doing your best but someone else is slacking off.

(I don’t know if that’s something Wesley considered during the writing of this, but it makes sense to me.)

The next part of the quote is, “to all the people you can.” I think here Wesley was saying that you should not stop caring about those you dislike. That you should try to find ways to help everyone, not just your own family, your own church, your own clique. That you should make a point to reach out, even when it’s hard (some days it’s very hard; I know!), to help someone who needs it. (Especially as some days, that person is going to be you. But I digress.)

And finally, Wesley closes his quote with, “as long as ever you can.” (I know that reads oddly to modern readers, but Wesley died in 1791. Word choices were different then.)

What does that mean, exactly? Well, I think Wesley believed you needed to keep doing whatever you possibly could to help others for the entirety of your lives. Period. Full stop.

Now, I did some digging into this quote. Wesley is attributed with it because of several sermons he gave during his career as a minister. This was seen to be his overarching philosophy, but Wesley probably never put it exactly the way this quote is put now during his lifetime.

(Which does make me wonder about that “ever you can” stuff, but again, Wesley died in 1791.)

What is important is that Wesley believed we all could and indeed should make a difference. That we indeed should do these things outside the church as well as inside; that we should do these things in the stores as well as our homes; that we should help those we knew and those we didn’t; that we should continue to pray for those we don’t understand and even those we dislike, along with those we know and do understand and deal with on a regular basis.

On this Sunday, take a minute and ask yourself, “What can I do to help someone else today that I normally don’t do?” And then, if you can, do that thing; if you can’t do it today but can do it tomorrow instead, do it then.

But do it. Because it matters. Even when it seems like it doesn’t.

Three Days, Three Quotes, Three Bloggers — Day Three #Friendship #Quotes #MFRWAuthor

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Folks, Fridays around Chez Caffrey are busy, tiresome, and difficult. (OK, maybe it was just yesterday.)

That’s the only reason I didn’t finish up the “Three Days, Three Quotes, and Three Bloggers” challenge put to me by the wonderful and inspirational author N.N. Light (author of PRINCESS OF THE LIGHT). But today is a new day…and I’m determined to finish up this challenge, even though I still don’t know what three bloggers I can possibly tag next.

Anyway, I looked for quotes about friendship today. Because to my mind, friendship is one of the biggest and best things there is. Being someone’s friend means standing by them in times of trouble, as well as joy; doing your best to understand them, no matter how different their experiences are from your own; and letting them know they’re not alone.

But C.S. Lewis, in THE FOUR LOVES, said it better than I just did. As quoted by the website What Christians Want to Know:

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

Note that while Lewis’s quotes are used more often than not by Christians, many — including this one — are appropriate for people of all faiths and creeds.

Now, to unpack a little what Lewis was talking about? Lewis pointed out that many of the best things in life (which, to him, included philosophy and art) seem to have no intrinsic value. Nothing that you can hang your hat on. Nothing of monetary value, and as he said overtly, nothing of immediate survival value.

But if you are friendless, you don’t have much of a life.

Why? Well, you have no one to share your joy or sorrow with. No one who understands you, no one with a long (or even a short) baseline to see what you’ve overcome. Or what you’ve made of yourself.

Discussing the meaning of friendship is especially appropriate for this particular blog-hop challenge, as I decided to take it up precisely because of my friendship with N.N. Light (affectionately known as “Mrs. N.”). I met her because of the Marketing for Romance Writers group — we are both MFRW Authors (or #MFRWAuthor on Twitter) — and found her to be a kindred spirit. She’s a book reviewer who loves baseball, believes in family and has a strong moral compass. And she writes and edits…we have a ton of things in common, and I’d not have gotten to know her without the auspices of Marketing for Romance Writers.

Anyway, I agree with C.S. Lewis. Friendship is vital. And while it may not have any intrinsic survival value, it certainly has a great deal of meaning behind it — meaning that is essential to a full and fruitful life.

Now, as for the remaining three bloggers to tag? I haven’t any clue whatsoever. Perhaps Aaron Lazar, Scott Eder, and Dina von Lowenkraft might be interested in this?

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 5, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Three Days, Three Quotes, Three Bloggers, Day Two — #Creativity #Inspiration #MFRWAuthor

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Folks, it’s Day Two of the “three days, three quotes, and three bloggers” challenge. I was tagged by author N.N. Light, she who wrote PRINCESS OF THE LIGHT…and I struggled for quite some time before I ran across this excellent quote by Doctor Jonas Salk:

I have come to associate a kind of success that we are referring to, to individuals who have a combination of attributes that are often associated with creativity. In a way they are mutants, they are different from others. And they follow their own drummer. We know what that means. And are we all like that? We are not like that. If you are, then it would be well to recognize that there were others before you. And, people like that are not very happy or content, until they are allowed to express, or they can express what’s in them to express. It’s that driving force that I think is like the process of evolution working on us, and in us, and with us, and through us. That’s how we continue on, and will improve our lot in life, solve the problems that arise. Partly out of necessity, partly out of this drive to improve. (Emphasis by Wikiquote.)

Now, why did this resonate with me? As a creative person, I’ve often felt different than many others. What I’m driven to do is not well understood, oft-times. And yet I must create, or I am not myself.

If someone as learned as Dr. Jonas Salk, who came up with a vaccine for polio, understands this — well, then, there must be hope for me to understand it about myself.

Anyway, sometimes the path to creativity lies in self-acceptance. If this describes you — and it may — do not shirk from the knowledge that you are different.

Because once you accept that knowledge, it might just become an advantage.

Today’s bloggers to tag? Hm…how about Aaron Lazar, Maria DeVivo, and Jeff Getzin?

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 3, 2015 at 5:04 pm