07 January 2008 

"imagine that noah knocked his house apart and used the planks to build an ark, while his neighbors looked on, full of doubt. a house, he must have told them, should be daubed with pitch and built to float cloud high, if need be. a lettuce patch was of no use at all, and a good foundation was worse than useless. a house should have a compass and a keel. the neighbors would have put their hands in their pockets and chewed their lips and strolled home to houses they now found wanting in ways they could not understand."

housekeeping, p. 184


"because, once alone, it is impossible to believe that one could ever have been otherwise. loneliness is a discovery. when one looks from inside at a lighted window, or looks from above at the lake, one sees the image of oneself in a lighted room, the image of oneself among trees and sky - the deception is obvious, but flattering all the same. when one looks from the darkness into the light, however, one sees all the difference between here and there, this and that. perhaps all unsheltered people are angry in their hearts, and would like to break the roof, spine, and ribs, and smash the windows and flood the floor and spindle the curtains and bloat the couch."

marilynne robinson, p. 157-158


"having a sister or a friend is like sitting at night in a lighted house. those outside can watch you if they want, but you need not see them. you simply say, "here are the perimeters of our attention. if you prowl around under the windows till the crickets go silent, we will pull the shades. if you wish us to suffer your envious curiosity, you must permit us not to notice it." anyone with one solid human bond is that smug, and it is the smugness as much as the comfort and safety that lonely people covet and admire. i had been, so to speak, turned out of house now long enough to have observed this in myself."

marilynne robinson, p. 154-155


"for need can blossom into all the compensation it requires. to crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow. for when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know any thing so utterly as when we lack it? and here again is a foreshadowing - the world will eb made whole. for to wish for a hand on one's hair is all but to feel it. so what ever we may lose, very craving gives it back to us again. though we dream and hardly know it, longing, like an angel, fosters us, smooths our hair, and brings us wild strawberries."

marilynne robinson, housekeeping p. 152-153