Nothing but the thread

Like quotations, flowers are individually appealing and collectively irresistible.
I photographed his eye-catching display in Amsterdam, April 2007.

“I have gathered a posy of other men’s flowers and nothing but the thread that binds them is mine own.”John Bartlett

In a recent post, we talked about the fondness for quotes that many of us share. Probably no name has been more associated with quotations than John Bartlett, whose classic collection has continued to be revised and published for more than a century after his death. The longevity of his work confirms our observation that quotes remain relevant, entertaining and inspiring.

Pretend for a moment that you are me, and you’re sitting down to write your next blog post after having written 1041 of them. What quotation would you choose? Where would you look to find ideas? Bartlett’s first volume featured the words of Shakespeare or the Bible so frequently that they made up a third of the book’s 258 pages, but there were a total of 169 authors represented. Who are some of the people you hear quoted again and again? Do you have a favorite author whose works are full of quotable passages?

Here’s an idea. Find a favorite quote and send it in a note or personal online message to someone who might like it. Maybe you even thought of that person the moment you read the quote. If so, find a few minutes today to add your words to someone else’s, and send a synergistic smile.

You’re invited to share your favorite quotations in the comments. I reserve the right to use them in upcoming posts! Our colorful threads can weave together the binding for a cheery bouquet this week– one that won’t wilt or fade.


  1. Good morning, Julia! One of my favorites from the Bible is Esther 4:14 (b). All I have right here is the KJV, but the point is still quite clear: “who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
    Do I need to add commentary?
    I suppose my own interpretation is that when things become difficult for myself or others, the experiences that I have had, my unique personality, and my relationship with God have possibly prepared me for “such a time as this.”

    • Susan, I too love that quote. It’s a sort of theme in life, for big events or small ones. In many cases we may never know how our roles enable us to work for good in the lives of others, but I really believe that it happens, far more often than we realize. Thanks for sharing this verse with us today! A giant bloom in the bouquet.

  2. I never thought of adding a quote to a note I was sending someone. Most are short and a little messy to read these days but I have such a large collection of quotes and many books on just quotes, I really should use them. I am not writing enough these days though I do in my mind. I’m going to give this some thought and get back to you on it. Haven’t finished my first cuppa yet. 🙂 Have a wonderfilled week, Julia. Love the flowers in your photo.

    • Marlene, on page 487 of volume 373 of Julia’s Exhaustive Encyclopedia of Good Intentions, there is an entry describing how I want to create note cards with various quotes on the front and the inside left blank for the sender to add personal notes. In the words of Star Trek, where the future is now, may you “live long and prosper” until I get around to that particular ambition; I’ll send you some when I do! 😀 😀 😀

      • Thank you so much for my first laugh out loud moment of the morning! You are quite the character. It’s like all those posts I write in my head and never get onto the computer. Life is in race mode. Have a great and funny day. Hugs, M

        • Marlene, I’m glad I gave you a laugh! You have a great day too! 😀

  3. Jack

    “If I’d known I was going to live this long,
    I would have taken better care of myself. ” Eubie Blake

    By the way, my mother in law passed peacefully Saturday morning. Does it sound cruel that I’m sad but not sorry? After 80 years of glorious living, the last four were full of trial and the cause of great enmity between her mostly close and loving children. I’ve already used my quota on sayings, but it seems apropos to say “Don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff” (on the cosmic scale). Or “these light and momentary troubles are achieving for us a glory that outweighs them all…” Saul of Tarsus, formerly persecutor of Jews, converted to cheerleader for Jesus by a light and momentary affliction!

    Darn, three quotes! Blessings Julia!

    • Jack, I like all three of those quotes. Thanks for sharing them. I don’t think you sound cruel to be sad but not sorry. That’s how it often is with one who has lived a long life. One year ago today, my own Mama died at the age of 86. She lived just 8 months after Daddy, her faithful caretaker, died suddenly (after literally breaking his back lifting her into bed from her wheelchair, as he did each night). Those eight months without Daddy were, for her, doubtlessly the most difficult time in a life that had been filled with challenges overcome and trials bravely faced. I think it would be accurate to say that we, too, were sad but not sorry. We hope and trust that those “light and momentary troubles” are but a distant memory– if a memory at all– to those who have passed from this life before us.

      • R.I.P. Carlyle 9/5/2015
        Jeff 10/6/2016
        Sybil 5/7/2017 (20 months after her husband’s death)

        • Eric, sorry for the error. I was counting from Jeff’s death, not Daddy’s. As hard as it may be for anyone but me to imagine this, those two years were so fraught with sorrow that I get everything confused when I look back on it all. She did indeed live 20 months after Daddy died. So, to correct the error, Mama lived 20 very difficult months, not eight.

  4. Harry Sims

    Shout Allelujah!

    • Harry– here’s one of my favorite songs. I bet you will like it too.

      • Harry Sims

        Thank you Julia.
        As you have probably surmised by now I love anything which helps me connect with God.
        This comes from a one-time functional agnostic.
        Here is one of my favorites.

        • Harry, I know that song is enormously popular, but I have never liked it much. To me, it’s pretty depressing. Here is the Pentatonix version, which is probably my favorite, though there’s an amazing Elvis impersonator who also did it, and there’s a nice morphing montage of photos of him. I’m not particularly an Elvis fan either, but I like the photography tricks in this video, and it’s one of the best impersonations I’ve heard.

          • Since we’re on the topic, I have to share my favorite version. 🙂
            There’s something about dance that can express what words sometimes can’t. The same holds for music, it’s true, but I like the visual in this one:

            • Thank you Susan, that’s lovely. I think maybe skating is the perfect visual for this song. To me, it has a totally different message as interpreted by the skater’s artistry.

              • Yes, she seemed to make it both personal, and hopeful.

                • It’s fascinating how figure skaters seem so free of the burdens of gravity and self-consciousness that make some of us so physically awkward. Perhaps when we watch a good ice skater (or gymnast) we feel a bit of vicarious self-expression that we can’t manage to convey for ourselves.

        • Judy from Pennsylvania

          Harry, thank you for sharing this video. I hadn’t seen it before and the pairing of the old screen clips from “The Thorn Birds” with the song is sadly beautiful. After watching the video, I ended up looking at some of the YouTube clips from the mini-series that I remember watching on tv in1983. It was a well done story and I enjoyed seeing some of the scenes again. But I especially loved the way this video blended “Hallelujah” with the lives of the characters. I’ve reached an age where I understand such struggles between the spiritual and the physical tugs in life.

  5. Mother Theresa.

    • Yes Merry, she definitely had some great thoughts. And unlike many whose words are wise, her actions exceeded her words.

  6. Judy from Pennsylvania

    The phrase “This too will pass” often comes to my mind when life gets difficult. A moment ago I looked it up on google to see where it originated. One source says, “There is not one definitive answer for the origin of this popular saying, but a common belief is that it stems from a fable written by Persian Sufi poets. Others credit it to Jewish folklore, saying it originated with King Solomon, although it is not recorded in the Bible.”

    • Judy, I too like that quote. Or maybe “like” is the wrong word; maybe I take a strange blend of comfort, sadness and admonition from it. Ashleigh Brilliant said it this way “All this will pass…some of it too slowly, the rest too soon.” I’ve had his card of that quote on the wall of my garret for years, but little did I know quite how prophetic it would prove to be in my own life. A thought worth remembering, for sure. Perhaps the Bible has a more optimistic version of it in Psalm 30:5B– “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” A comfort, even when the night seems unbearably long.

  7. “God tells us to love our neighbors, He also tells us to love our enemies; probably because they generally are the same people.” – G.K. Chesterton

    The two authors that I find most quotable are Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen and G.K. Chesterton. I always read them with pen in hand, ready to underline a valuable quote. At the end of the book I notice that I’ve underlined every line in the book.

    • Alan, I have a few books like that– I use post-it flags and sometimes I’ll notice that the book seems to have flags on every page, sometimes more than one to a page! You know you’ve found a great writer when you see that happen.

      • That is why I can’t donate my books to a church fund raiser book sale.

        • 😀 As a librarian might say, “A book in the hand is worth two on the shelf” or for that matter, the fund raiser book table. 😀

          • Very good, Julia. A Happy Mother’s Day to you!

            • Thank you, Alan. It was a rough Mother’s Day for me, as (for the very first time ever) I heard absolutely nothing, zero, zip, from my firstborn. My sweet Matt was with me, though, and he is a great comfort.

              • For that I am sorry, Julia. Know that a continual spiritual bouquet of prayers comes your way.

                • Thanks Alan. Yesterday I got a small package from Drew that was in my held mail at York. He sent it there and didn’t tell me it was coming. I still need the prayers though! And very much appreciate them. 🙂

  8. Amy

    Hi there, I love this post. You know me, I love to quote almost everything, books, movies, people. My children used to groan at the quotes and now they quote others too. I find it helps me with memorization of trivia and to remember details that I loved. It can be useful if you are at a loss for words of your own in talking with others either for persuasion or encouragement. Sometimes, it’s just plain fun. I have so many favorties I can hardly narrow down all the places I quote and you have heard me use a lot over the years we have been friends. Of course I love to quote from the Bible though I’m not very good at it and I do like to be correct when doing that. Matt has me hands down on that for sure. As you told your friend Alan you know you have found a great book when the pages have stickers on stickers. That would be my Bible. I also love A.A. Milne, “You are stronger than you seem, braver than you believe and smarter than you think you are.” Of course I can’t leave my beloved Anne Shirley out of any mention of quoting. She is after all such a “kindred spirit” I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you how much I adore her and admire Lucy Maude Montgomery for bringing her and all of Avonlea to life for me. There is always Dickens, too many great quotes from him to put down here and one of my favorite authors that no one ever seems to know but me, Eleanor H. Porter and her lovely Pollyanna. “He said if God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times (in the Bible) to be glad and rejoice, He must want us to do it – some.” Pollyanna tells that to her aunt speaking of her father explaining the glad game. I love that story. I don’t think children read it anymore. I guess I should close for now. I hope you can use these. I love you. Thanks for the post. God bless.

    • Amy, one of the VERY FEW books I owned personally in childhood was a lovely hardcover edition of Eleanor Porter’s Pollyanna. It was given to me for Christmas by our neighbor across the street, who is the only person who ever gave us books on a regular basis. She would wrap them up prettily and then put the front of a lovely Christmas card on the package for a decoration, instead of a bow. I always thought that was so clever of her. I still have some of the books she gave to me or Al, but I don’t know what happened to that copy of Pollyanna. I may have loaned it to a friend and never got it back because I can’t imagine intentionally getting rid of it. I read it as soon as I got it, and I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that it influenced how I saw things from there on in; possibly even this blog is a result of that book. I saw my own parents living out the principle of pressing on through hard times and finding the good in everything, so I was more receptive to the book’s message. I never saw the Disney movie but I loved the book. I’m sure it would be considered too sweet for today’s kids. Sad, really. I’m glad you remember it. I think everyone should play the glad game. Perhaps Paul was advocating a version of the glad game when he wrote Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Maybe he said it twice because he anticipated that a lot of people would respond, “Yeah, right, always. AS IF!” But he managed to do it. 🙂 So should we.

  9. My favourite quote, these months, is from the Bible, too.
    “Seek good, not evil,
    that you may live.” (Amos 5, 14)

    I try to remind it to myself every time I feel sad, discouraged or whiny. Or when I am about to say something mean/bad about someone.
    I used to write in a blank journal all the quotes I liked, your post suggests me I should resume this “hobby”, I still have that journal and it’s only half full.
    Thank you and have a nice day

    • Elena, thanks for sharing that quote, so short but full of a profound message that is more needed than ever. I think your journal is a great idea and I hope you resume it. If you should ever be reading through it and find some more good ones you want to share, feel free to come back and post them here! I am grateful that you stopped by, and added your comment to encourage us.

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