Reflections on boldness, mercy & grace: themes from Hebrews 4

How will you come boldly into the presence of God, of Love? What does it mean, for you, to trust that you will receive the help you require, if not the help you desire, even if you cannot possibly merit it? Have you ever felt such a moment, being utterly loved and supported? Have you ever offered that sort of love and support to someone else? What sort of grace, or help, do you need?


How does the Meadow flower its bloom unfold?
Because the lovely little flower is free down to its root,
and in that freedom bold.
— William Wordsworth (excerpt)

Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute –
What you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Only engage, and then the mind grows heated —
Begin it, and the work will be completed!
— John Anster (excerpt) translation of Part One of
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s“Faust”

On Boldness

Dream a big dream, a bold dream. Don’t play conservatively between the 40 yard lines. Don’t just play it safe. — Robert Kraft

Fortune befriends the bold. — Emily Dickinson

Be bold, be brave enough to be your true self. — Queen Latifah

Shine like the whole universe is yours. — Rumi


Freedom lies in being bold. — Robert Frost

Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful. — William Shakespeare

Why hit a conservative shot? When you miss it, you are in just as much trouble as when you miss a bold one. — Arnold Palmer

Laugh at yourself, but don’t ever aim your doubt at yourself. Be bold. When you embark for strange places, don’t leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory.  — Alan Alda

When Jesus called Peter to come to him across the water, Peter, for one brief, glorious moment, remembered how, and strode with ease across the lake. This is how we are meant to be, and then we forget, and we sink. But if we cry out for help (as  Peter did) we will be pulled out of the water, we don’t drown. And if we listen, we will hear; and if we look, we will see. — Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. — Helen Keller

Make bold choices and make mistakes. It’s all those things that add up to the person you become. — Angelina Jolie

I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led, and bearding every authority which stood in their way. — Thomas Jefferson

The breaking wave and the muscle as it contracts obey the same law. Delicate line gathers the body’s total strength in a bold balance. Shall my soul meet so severe a curve, journeying on its way to form? — Dag Hammarskjold

America was born in outrageous ambition, so bold as to be improbable. The deprived, the oppressed, the powerless from all over the globe came here with little more than the desire to realize themselves. — Mario Cuomo

I just think mercy is our only hope. — From an interview with Anne Lamott in The Washington Post

Anne: I felt just to point out to people how merciful they are or used to be and can be again and the beauty of living from your merciful heart instead of your ticker-tape brain — judgmental brain — is the way home. It’s the way to peace, the way to feeling safe and connected. It’s all the things we long for.

Interviewer: What is mercy?

Anne: To me, it’s sort of like grace in action. It’s grace as that unmerited, beautiful energy of assistance and second winds and buoyancy and fresh air and help to our feet. That’s how I define grace, and mercy seems more like the action of that. It’s the miracle that we’re forgiven, the miracle that we forgive even the most impossible people, including relatives, the miracle that we have found mercy in our hearts for people who have hurt our children.

Anne:  I think probably synonyms are compassion and lovingkindness in the Buddhist tradition and forgiveness almost. [It’s] the tenderheartedness of my relationship with God, the extreme forgiveness of God and, of course, the wonderfully low standards of God so that even someone like me is completely adored and welcomed in the great shalom of God wanting us.

Anne:  So mercy is all of those things. To have a merciful heart means your heart has been softened by the meat tenderizer of grace so that even if somebody is wrong or has wronged you, you feel mercifully toward them. You get it. You get that they have suffered. You get what an effort it is for them just to get through the day.


Thirst — Mary Oliver

Another morning and I wake with thirst for the goodness I do not have. I walk out to the pond and all the way God has
given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord, I was never a quick scholar but sulked and hunched over my books past the hour
and the bell; grant me, in your mercy, a little more time. Love for the earth and love for you are having such a long conversation in my heart. Who knows what will finally happen or where I will be sent, yet already I have given a great many things away, expecting to be told to pack nothing, except the prayers which, with this thirst, I am slowly learning.