doing and undoing

I am a collector of quotes. Not intentionally. I mean, I don’t set out on any given day to pursue finding great quotes. I gather them as I hear or read them. Sometimes I hear something on the radio and I grab a pen out of my purse and repeat it out loud to myself until I get to a stop light so I can quickly jot it down. I’ve written on receipts, paper bags, my hand…. My collection of bits of paper with the words of others scribbled on them is in one of three places: stuffed in a file in my drawer, or arranged in messy little stack next to my chair in my little room where I write. Sometimes I get them typed into the computer and filed in a quote folder. Not very often though. So I end up rifling through my folder and stack to find the one I’m looking for.

One of my favorites (that I just found in the stack by my chair) is by Horace Mann. (I didn’t know who he was either, so don’t feel bad.) I just read about him on Wikipedia and learned he was self-taught because of his poor upbringing. He made use of the library and when he was 20, went to university, graduating in only 3 years as the valedictorian! Pretty impressive, especially since he never had more than 6 weeks of school in any given year. Yet he became a reformer of education almost 200 years ago! He’s known for this saying:

“Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

Horace was also the brother-in-law of Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author of The Scarlet Letter and The House of The Seven Gables. I imagine they had some enjoyable dinner conversations!

Here is the quote I’ve written on a scrap of paper and refer back to time and again. I’ve shared it with a few friends and I’ll share it with you. It’s a great reminder of how we should live our lives.

“Doing nothing for others is the undoing of one’s self. We must be purposely kind and generous, or we miss the best part of existence. The heart that goes out of itself gets large and full of joy. This is the great secret of the inner life. We do ourselves the most good doing something for others.”  H. Mann

This truth brings to mind some words of Jesus spoken over two-thousand years ago! “Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will keep it.” (Luke 17:33) It’s so true! Giving our lives away just brings more life and joy and satisfaction. It’s a win-win!

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One Response to “doing and undoing”

  1. Kris Gnuse Says:

    Kris, I just finally got around to your blog for the first time today. It won’t be the last! I love your heart and the way you express it! Please keep blogging. In the meantime, I’ll be catching up on all of your back-posts!

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