Devotion lights candles at dusk.  She braids her grandmother’s hair with an antique comb.  She works as an ecologist at the university.  She wears long flowing tunics with bright cotton pants.  She has never taken a dance class, but she moves with an unstudied grace, sensitive to the edge where her body meets the air.
Devotion balances periods of great stillness with times of moevement and exuberance.  She has prayed in many temples and seen evidence of God in unlikely places.  She keeps a postcard of Saint Francis above her desk.  A Yemenite amulet hangs in her window.  Always she remembers to honor the Mother.


Inspiration is disturbing.  She does not believe in guarantees or insurance or strict schedules.  She is not interested in how well you write your grant proposal or what you do for a living or why you are too busy to see her.  She will be there when you need her but you have to take it on trust.  Surrender.  She knows when you need her better than you do.


Honesty is the most vulnerable man I have ever met.  He is simple and loving.  He lives in a small town on a cliff near the beach.  I had forgotten how many stars there are in the midnight sky until I spent a week with him at his house by the sea.
In my time I have been afraid of so many things, most especially of the heights and of the darkness.  I know if I had been driving anywhere else, the road would have terrified me.  Knowing I was on my way to see him softened the fear.  And in his presence the darkness becomes big and deep and comforting.  He says if you are totally vulnerable you cannot be hurt.


Joy drinks pure water.  She has sat with the dying and attended many births.  She denies nothing.  She is in love with life, all of it, the sun and the rain and the rainbow.  She rides horses at Half Moon Bay under the October moon.  She climbs mountains.  She sings in the hills.  She jumps from the hot spring to the cold stream without hesitation>
Although Joy is spontaneous, she is immensely patient.  She does not need to rush.  She knows that there are obstacles on every path and that every moment is the perfect moment.  She is not concerned with success or failure or how to make things permanent.
At times Joy is elusive – she seems to disappear even as we approach her.  I see her standing on a ridge covered with oak trees, and suddenly the distance between us feels enormous.  I am overwhelmed and wonder if the effort to reach her is worth it.  Yet, she waits for us.  Her desire to walk with us is as great as our longing to accompany her.

All from The Book of Qualities by J. Ruth Gendler.

6 thoughts on “Qualities”

  1. Personification.

    Personification is a shape shifter, coagulating out of the ether into shapes, forms color, differentiating into the ten thousand things, inspiring us to talk about the joy we glimpsed in the piercing honesty of our devotion to each every other. Personification cloaks itself in a metaphor, stuffs a “like” and an “as” in her pocket, lovingly quoting someone else who was never anyone other than her… and brightening our day with this lovely post… ever so softly urging us to see that phantom spirit flitting between us all and waiting patiently on the other side of every looking glass.

  2. I think I want to be Devotion when I grown up. Or maybe a little of each…

    Far from home, your words make me feel grounded. And inspired.

    Thank you.

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