Words for November

The month of November tests the resolve of most Northern populations.

It feels like a slow and relentless withering away of life and light.

This morning, for instance (November 30th), the sun rose at 7: 13 a.m. and will have disappeared by 4: 12 p.m. A scarce nine hours of daylight in which to go about the business of living.

Which is why we wait for the snow and its moonlight & sunlight-reflecting whiteness and sound-dampening cover ; and for the festivities and gatherings that buoy our spirits.

Since November 13th, many are also living in a state of «What next?» wondering what can possibly follow the horrors of the Paris attacks.

November sunrise in West Vancouver, BC (photo courtesy of Marie Payette-falls)
November sunrise in West Vancouver, BC
(photo courtesy of Marie Payette-falls)

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. (Isaiah 9:2)

These words are read every year, at this time, by Christians and Jews alike, and are familiar to many more.

But it was thoughts of millions of refugees, worldwide, that just brought them to mind. What must it be like to exist in a state of anticipation so acute and so desperate that it leaves almost no room for living?

Here are some of the quotes I gathered this month. They all touch some part of my personal credo. In some way, each shrinks the distance that separates me from the world around me. They evoke passion and compassion.


a) «In a secular age, I suspect that reading fiction is one of the few remaining paths to transcendence, that elusive state in which the distance between the self and the universe shrinks.»- Ceridwen Dovey, «Can Reading Make You Happier?»

(From: http://www.newyorker.com/…/cul…/can-reading-make-you-happier)


Gaunt bookstore, London, UK.
Inside Gaunt Bookstore

b) From Eduardo Galeano’s Children of the Days


 The Encounter 

The door was closed :

            «Who is it?»

            «It’s me.»

            «I don’t know you.»

And the door remained closed.

The following day :

            «Who is it?»

            «It’s me.»

            «I don’t know who you are.»

And the door remained closed.

Then the following day :

            «Who is it?»

            «It’s you.»

And the door opened.

—From the Persian poet Farid al-Din Attar, born in 1142 in the city of Nishapur»

c) Rachel Elizabeth Griffiths,  Excerpts from a PEN.org interview:
language« Every time I sit down to write I dare the universe. I dare my own death. I dare my 26 horses into syllables and we take off. I’m aware of the risks—everything that my silence would keep hostage rears before me.»

« Language is such a fire. It’s difficult and necessary and maiming and magnificent. I don’t have its wings, but through literature  I have experienced  flight over and over. Words and vocabularies also graze my body with wildfires that have taken years to extinguish.»

d) From Voltaire:

« Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers. »

e)  Dang Thuy Tram :

«Come to me, squeeze my hand, know my loneliness, and give me the love, the strength to prevail on the perilous road before me.»


A fiery November morning sky over my neighbourhood.
A fiery November morning sky over my neighbourhood. The trees are leafless.


f) From Eduardo Galeano’s Children of the Days: 


This World Enamored of Death

Today, International Day of Nonviolence, let us recall the words of Dwight Eisenhower, who was not exactly a pacifist. In 1953, as president of the country that spends the most on weapons, he acknowledged:

«Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.» 



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