I wanted you to see what real courage is,
instead of getting the idea
that courage is a man
with a gun in his hand.
It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin,
but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.
~Harper Lee from To Kill A Mockingbird
I know. It’s all wrong.
By rights we shouldn’t even be here.
But we are.
It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end.
Because how could the end be happy?
How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.
Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why.
But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding on to something. That there is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.
~J.R.R. Tolkien – Samwise Gamgee to Frodo in The Two Towers
Courage is almost a contradiction in terms.
It means a strong desire to live
taking the form of a readiness to die.
~ G.K. Chesterton from “The Paradoxes of Christianity” in Orthodoxy
This is another day, O Lord…
If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.
If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly.
If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently.
And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly.
— Kathleen Norris citing the Book of Common Prayer
What courage it takes to step out one’s front door these days.
I never know where I might be swept off to
or what I might be swept into.
When I feel overwhelmed and discouraged,
when it seems the world is cast in nothing but shadow,
I am reminded I too am part of a great story
and the plot progression is, by necessity, a mystery.
While the darkness seems to never end,
I will pass through shadows and feel great fear,
I will be asked to do things that threaten my well-being
because it is the right thing to do for another.
Yet we are promised Light and Joy at the end of this epic story.
There is still good in the world and it is worth fighting for.
It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off too.
~J.R.R. Tolkien – Bilbo to Frodo in Fellowship of the Rings
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