Top 78 Marilynne Robinson Quotes

Memory can make a thing seem to have been much more than it was.


There’s so much to be grateful for, words are poor things.


When something ought to be true then it proves to be a very powerful truth.


I felt, as I have often felt, that my failing the truth could have no bearing at all on the Truth itself, which could never conceivably be in any sense dependent on me or on anyone.


I experience religious dread whenever I find myself thinking that I know the limits of God’s grace, since I am utterly certain it exceeds any imagination a human being might have of it. God does, after all, so love the world.


I think hope is the worst thing in the world. I really do. It makes a fool of you while it lasts. And then when it’s gone, it’s like there’s nothing left of you at all . . . except what you can’t be rid of.


Of my conception I know only what you know of yours. It occurred in darkness and I was unconsenting… By some bleak alchemy what had been mere unbeing becomes death when life is mingled with it.


It seems to me some people just go around lookin’ to get their faith unsettled. That has been the fashion for the last hundred years or so.


I believe there is dignity in sorrow simply because it is God’s good pleasure that there should be. He is forever raising up those who are brought low.


Adulthood is a wonderful thing and brief. You must be sure to enjoy it while it lasts. I believe the soul in Paradise must enjoy something nearer to a perpetual vigorous adulthood than to any other state we know.


I think the attempt to defend belief can unsettle it, in fact, because there is always an inadequacy in argument about ultimate things.


You can know a thing to death and be for all purposes completely ignorant of it. A man can know his father, or his son, and there might still be nothing between them but loyalty and love and mutual incomprehension.


i know more than i know and must learn it from myself


We live on a little island of the articulable, which we tend to mistake for reality itself.


We are in the process of disabling our most distinctive achievement – our educational system – in the name of making the country more like itself.


A man can know his father, or his son, and there might still be nothing between them but loyalty and love and mutual incomprehension.


I’ve developed a great reputation for wisdom by ordering more books than I ever had time to read, and reading more books, by far, than I learned anything useful from, except, of course, that some very tedious gentlemen have written books.


She knew that was not an honest prayer, and she did not linger over it. The right prayer would have been, Lord . . . I am miserable and bitter at heart, and old fears are rising up in me so that everything I do makes everything worse.


It’s better to have nothing,’ the children were saying.


It seems to me people tend to forget that we are to love our enemies, not to satisfy some standard of righteousness but because God their Father loves them.


Christianity is a life, not a doctrine . . . I’m not saying never doubt or question. The Lord gave you a mind so that you would make honest use of it. I’m saying you must be sure that the doubts and questions are your own.


My grandfather once told her if you couldn’t read with cold feet, there wouldn’t be a literate soul in the state of Maine.


When I was a child, I read books. My reading was not indiscriminate. I preferred books that were old and thick and hard. I made vocabulary lists.


Our humanity consists in the fact that we do more than survive, that a great part of what we do confers no survival benefit in terms presumably salient from the Pleistocene point of view.


We are moved to respond to the fact of human brilliance, human depth in all its variety because it is the most wonderful thing in the world, very probably the most wonderful thing in the universe.


Well, but you two are dancing around in your iridescent little downpour, whooping and stomping as sane people ought to do when they encounter a thing so miraculous as water.


Families will not be broken. Curse and expel them, send their children wandering, drown them in floods and fires, and old women will make songs of all these sorrows and sit on the porch and sing them on mild evenings.


But there is something about human beings that too often makes our love for the world look very much like hatred for it.


I have never distinguished readily between thinking and dreaming. I know my life would be much different if I could ever say, This I have learned from my senses, while that I have merely imagined.


How I wish you could have known me in my strength.


It is worth living long enough to outlast whatever sense of grievance you may acquire.


And I’d pray for them. And I’d imagine peace they couldn’t expect and couldn’t account for descending on their illness or their quarreling or their dreams.


That is to say, I pray for you. And there’s an intimacy in it. That’s the truth.


I’ll pray that you grow up a brave man in a brave country. I will pray you find a way to be useful.I’ll pray, and then I’ll sleep.


There are a thousand reasons to live this life, every one of them sufficient.


She was a music I no longer heard, that rang in my mind, itself and nothing else, lost to all sense, but not perished, not perished.


The broadest possible exercise of imagination is the thing most conducive to human health, individual and global


I believe there are visions that come to us only in memory, in retrospect.


He looked up at her. Kindness was something he didn’t even know he wanted, and here it was.


There is more beauty than our eyes can bear, precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm.


Because, once alone, it is impossible to believe that one could ever have been otherwise. Loneliness is an absolute discovery.


I am vehemently grateful that, by whatever means, I learned to assume that loneliness should be in part pleasure, sensitizing and clarifying, and that it is even a truer bond among people than any kind of proximity.


My reputation is largely the creature of the kindly imaginings of my flock, whom I chose not to disillusion, in part because the truth had the kind of pathos in it that would bring on sympathy in its least bearable forms.


The word “preacher” comes from an old French word, predicateur, which means prophet. And what is the purpose of a prophet except to find meaning in trouble?


Say that we are a puff of warm breath in a very cold universe. By this kind of reckoning we are either immeasurably insignificant or we are incalculably precious and interesting. I tend toward the second view.


There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, everyone of them sufficient


To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow.


…when I see a man or woman alone, he or she looks mysterious to me, which is only to say that for a moment I see another human being clearly.


It is a good thing to know what it is to be poor, and a better thing if you can do it in company.


Love is holy because it is like grace–the worthiness of its object is never really what matters.


. . . there is an absolute disjunction between our Father’s love and our deserving.


Glory went to look in on her father. He lay on his right side, his face composed, intent on sleep. His hair had been brushed into a soft white cloud, like harmless aspiration, like a mist given off by the endless work of dreaming.


There was no way to abandon guilt, no decent way to disown it. All the tangles and knots of bitterness and desperation and fear had to be pitied. No, better, grace had to fall over them.


The best things that happen I’d never have thought to pray for. In a million years. The worst things just come like the weather.


You never know when you might be seeing someone for the last time.


…morality is a check upon the strongest temptations.


Memory is the sense of loss, and loss pulls us after it.


In eternity this world will be like Troy, I believe, and all that has passed here will be the epic of the universe, the ballad they sing in the streets.


Dawn and its excesses always reminded me of heaven, a place where I have always known I would not be comfortable.


I am grateful for all those dark years, even though in retrospect they seem like a long, bitter prayer that was answered finally.


The locus of the human mystery is perception of this world. From it proceeds every thought, every art.


I’ve often been sorry to see a night end, even while I have loved seeing the dawn come.


Earthly nature may be parsimonious, but the human mind is prodigal, itself an anomaly that in its wealth of error as well as of insight is exceptional, utterly unique as far as we know, properly an object of wonder.


We lost track of which was which, but we were fairly sure that some of the creatures had been borne away still in the darkness of paganism, and that worried us a good deal.


It has been my experience that guilt can burst through the smallest breach and cover the landscape, and abide in it in pools and danknesses, just as native as water.


I feel as if I am being left out, as though I’m some straggler and people can’t quite remember to stay back for me.


She kept saying, “My husband will be back soon. He went for help. He’ll be back.” But that’s the kind of lie people tell sometimes when they got only strangers to rely on. There’s shame in that, so people lie.


There would be a general reclaiming of fallen buttons and misplaced spectacles, of neighbors and kin, till time and error and accident were undone, and the world became comprehensible and whole.


Eliminate the overwhelming cost of phantom wars and fools’ errands, and humankind might begin to balance its books. After all, its only debts are to itself.


So much had never been explained to her. They were that kind of family. Things necessary to know were passed along brother to brother, sister to sister, and this sufficient for most purposes, despite inevitable error and sensationalism.


Glory had rehearsed angry outbursts in anticipation of his arrival. She began to hope he would come so she could tell him exactly what she thought.


So much had never been explained to her. They were that kind of family. Things necessary to know were passed along brother to brother, sister to sister, and this sufficient for most purposes, despite inevitable error and sensational.


Even as children they had been good in fact, but also in order to be seen as good. There was something disturbingly like hypocrisy about it all…


In that eternity of his, where everybody will be happy, how could he feel the lack of her, the loss of her?


If you thought dead was just dead, then you wouldn’t have to worry about any of this.


Families will not be broken. Curse and expel them send their children wandering drown them in floods and fires and old women will make songs of all these sorrows and sit in the porches and sing them on mild evenings.


Over my life as a teacher, women have been too quiet. I’m quiet myself. I don’t think I said three words the whole of graduate school.


A lot of Christian extremism has done a great deal to discredit religion the main religious traditions have abandoned their own intellectual cultures so drastically that no one has any sense of it other than the fringe.



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