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Hannah Coulter Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
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Hannah Coulter Quotes Showing 1-30 of 84
“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.”
Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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.”
Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter
“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
“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
“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
“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
“Time doesn't stop. Your life doesn't stop and wait until you get ready to start living it.”
Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter
“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
“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
“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
“The way of education leads away from home. That is what we learned from our children’s education.”
Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
tags: winter
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“Living right on called for nothing out of the ordinary. We made no changes. We only accepted the changes as they came.”
Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

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