A Great Cloud of Witnesses – 8 Feb 2011

Courage has been on my mind and heart over the last several days. Here is a virtue, a mystery, which our word courage tries to contain. Like many mysteries, much can be said about courage (and has been said). Yet, in the end, we will never exhaust the mystery that is courage. We will recognize it in ourselves and others, we will celebrate it, we will draw inspiration from it, but we will never be able to speak the final word about courage. As always, I give thanks for those witnesses in my life who have demonstrated and today witness courage to me. They inspire and have inspired (by invitation rather than command) courage enough to face my fears. I offer several quotes today (found on Wikiquote) to help you find the witnesses to courage in your own life, and give thanks for their presence.

Courage and Fear

Today’s quotes:
Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.

G. K. Chesterton (1)

Without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men … have lived. The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy. A man does what he must—in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures—and that is the basis of all human morality…. In whatever arena of life one may meet the challenge of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience—the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men—each man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of past courage can define that ingredient—they can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul.

John F. Kennedy (2)


  • be still
  • let the cloud of witnesses envelop you
  • find your witness or witnesses who lived/are living this truth
  • give thanks for their presence in your life
  • when ready, go with encouragement and renewed energy
  • go and witness this truth in your own life

Explanation and purpose

Introduction to my occasional series A Great Cloud of Witnesses

(1) Orthodoxy, Ch. 6 (1909) – under “courage” in Wikiquote accessed 8 Feb 2011
(2) Profiles in Courage (1956) – under “courage” in Wikiquote accessed 8 Feb 2011
Image: from the internet