The Perfect Sentence

The Perfect Sentence

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Every writer, I dare say, is in search for the perfect sentence—words stringed with meaning and laced with beauty. It is a sentence that creates a certain mystical air by words both written and implied.

 

To a reader, such a sentence arrests the attention and halts, for a moment, the process of reading. To a writer, the same incites jealousy and admiration simultaneously. In either case, a pause is deserved.

 

Though elusive, the perfect sentence is captured by the most brilliant of writers. James Salter, whom I, regrettably, was unacquainted with before his recent passing, was one. His essay, The Paradise of the Library, is to me an extraordinary piece.

 

The love of books, the possession of them, can be thought of as an extension of one’s self or being, not separate from a love of life but rather as an extra dimension of it, and even of what comes after. “Paradise is a library,” as Borges said.

 

Salter’s sentences, which he was known for, like the one above, were…magical. That essay charmed me. What bibliophile could resist giddiness in reading “the promise of solitude and discovery” in books, or the “disinclination to part with a book after it was acquired,” or “reading has the power not only to demolish time and span the ages, but also the capacity to make one feel more human—human meaning at with humanity—and possibly less savage.”

 

Abraham J. Heschel is another one of my favorites. I could never forget the first time I came across this sentence—I had to stop reading, jaw dropped, literally.

 

To become aware of the ineffable is to part company with words. The essence, the tangent to the curve of human experience, lies beyond the limits of language. Man Is Not Alone, p. 16

 

The entire book Man Is Not Alone is filled with stunning and solemn sentences like the one above.

 

The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living. God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism, p. 46

 

 

I am, in fact, a happier person because these sentences exist in the world. I am perfectly pleased that part of life’s joy is to take pleasure in other people’s creation. At the same time, I, too, am in search for my own perfect sentence. And if we can all delight in each other’s words, then paradise must be a library.

 

 

More Amazing Grace

More Amazing Grace

The longer I am a Christian
The more I find out
How much of a sinner I am
How incapable I am
To be like Jesus
My understanding increases
My nature struggles to catch up
Still wretched, still poor
Thus I fall shorter, shorter of the mark

The longer I am a Christian
The more I desire to be real
In the heart, not just on paper
In the flesh, not just in debates
But it’s easier to be an intellectual Christian than a real one
And when I go home to my mirror
The light of God shines
In my reflection I see two faces

The longer one is a Christian
They say one sees his sins even more
Because Jesus is closer
But for me that is often questionable
And it is very distressing
To be seen more pious than I really am

The longer I am a Christian
The more desperate I become
Because I am helpless
And powerless to obey

But the longer I am a Christian
The more I know the all-sufficient grace
That covers me just the same
The more I know of me
The greater I need my Savior
And He saves me
Yes, even today!

And that is why
The longer I am a Christian
This grace is just more amazing
Than when I first believed

My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things; That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour. – John Newton, author of the hymn Amazing Grace.

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