October and November 2014

For the months of October and November, the Revd Bill Sykes, Emeritus Chaplain Fellow of Univ reflects upon "Life", "Hope" and "Character."

A quick reminder about "Reflection." In the practice of Reflection, we "mull over", we "ponder on", we "inwardly ruminate", we "consider", short quotations. Our aim is to get the maximum value out of these sayings. I have found that repeating the quotation, slowly and deliberately several times is a helpful way of Reflecting. In addition some may well find it useful to have a pen and paper nearby. In the writing process one undergraduate came back to me beaming, saying that he had experienced his "first thoughts ever!"

The aim of Reflection is a high one; to enable us to work out our own unique wholeness, and to experience life in the fullest possible way. I have selected three gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit: "Life," "Hope," and "Character." These are all highly relevant for everyday living and can enrich our lives enormously.




The secret of life is to be found in life itself, in the full organic, intellectual and spiritual activities of our body – Alexis Carrel


Reflect that life, like ev'ry other blessing, derives its value from its use alone  Samuel Johnson


The life of the individual only has meaning insofar as it aids in making the life of every living thing nobler and more beautiful – Albert Einstein


Each person must look to himself to teach him the meaning of life. It is not something to be moulded – Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Life is either a daring adventure or nothing  Helen Keller


Make me useful, positive, appreciative, generous; make me live – Norman Goodacre


For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it – Matthew 7.14


Everything has been figured out, except how to live – Jean-Paul Sartre


I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly – John 10.10




Whatever enlarges hope will also exalt courage – Samuel Johnson


Great hopes makes great "people" – Thomas Fuller


The virtue of hope is an orientation of the soul towards a transformation after which it will be wholly and exclusively love – Simone Weil


Ah! If man would but see that hope is from within and not from without – that he himself must work out his own salvation – H. Rider Haggard


Hope is lived when it comes alive, when we go outside of ourselves and, in joy and pain take part in the lives of others – Jurgen Moltmann


The ability to hope is the greatest gift that God could make to mankind – Carlo Carretta


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit – Romans 15.13


Anyt hing that is found to stimulate hope should be seized upon and make to serve. This applies to a book, a film, a broadcast, or a conversation with someone who can impart it – Hubert van Zeller




Happiness is not the end of life, character is – Henry Ward Beecher


Let us be true: this is the highest maxim of art, the secret of eloquence and of virtue, and of all moral authority – Henri Frédéric Amiel


Friends, suffering, marriage, environment, study and recreation are influence which shape character. The strongest influence, if you are generous enough to yield to it, is the grace of God – Hubert van Zeller


Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved – Helen Keller


If we will but let our God and Father work his will with us, there can be no limit to his enlargement of our existence, to the flood of life with which he will overflow our consciousness – George MacDonald


Character – in things great and small – is indicated when a man (or person) pursues with sustained follow-through what he feels himself capable of doing – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


All these Reflections have come from "A Still More Excellent  Way"– a compilation published by me about a year ago. In it are 26 gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, each one having about 140 short expressions or quotes. There are about 3,000 of them, enough to last a lifetime! If you wish to acquire a copy contact me through Univ – cost £12.50, or email me: william.sykes@univ.ox.ac.uk


Also for those who were in Reflection Groups during their time in Univ. I am selling off the material used in those groups. There are five volumes  Visions of Faith, Visions of Love, Visions of Hope, Visions of Grace and Visions of Glory. Each volume has 300 pages, and the cost is £10 per copy. There is also a shortened version of these five books, called "The Canterbury Book of Spiritual Quotations", at £14.99. Again email me if you wish to purchase these books.


Final Reflection – God made us, but we have to be – George MacDonald


In the Reflection Groups I used to run in Univ. I advised those belonging to other faiths and non-Christians, if they found the specifically "Christian" quotes not to their liking, to move on and concentrate on the other quotations. The same applies here.


All good wishes,