"My advice to youth, if asked, would be: 'You only get out of life what you are prepared to put into it,''' writes William Sykes.
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"My advice to youth, if asked, would be: 'You only get out of life what you are prepared to put into it,''' writes William Sykes.
"Man and woman, after all, are made in the image and likeness of God with dominion over the earth, with a mandate to run it according to the will of God. I wonder if we need to get back to this fundamental principle,'' writes William Sykes.
"I am very fond of the story of Elijah at Mount Horeb in which the word of the Lord came to him in 'a still small voice'. I believe this is how we should hear the 'word of God' today, though very few of us are quiet enough to hear it,'' writes William Sykes.
"I remember reading Ralph Waldo Trine's book, In Tune with the Infinite, in my teens, and through it coming to a belief in God, seen primarily as Creator and the power behind nature,'' writes William Sykes.
"I took a step of faith, naively expecting to be transformed in the twinkling of an eye. It didn't work out that way at all. In the weeks that followed I was aware a fundamental change had taken place and experienced a new sense of freedom, but the process of transformation has been a long and costly process,'' writes William Sykes.
"I stand back from time to time and prune my activities. We tend to waste so much time in trivia and superficialities.'' writes William Sykes.
"I owe a great debt to Edward Wilson, the doctor on Scott's expedition to the Antarctic. Early on in life he adopted the practice of keeping a spiritual diary and would go through the Gospels systematically, working out in his own mind what he thought about our Lord's teaching. I adopted a variant of this practice in my early twenties, but added to the Gospels what I consider to be the great insights 'on life' in the last 2,000 years,'' writes William Sykes.
Solitude permits the mind to feel, to think and to grow, writes William Sykes.
"Two people—a man and a woman for whom I have the greatest respect—have spoken warmly of society today. They both feel it is an exciting time to be alive. They have jobs they find fulfilling and enjoy the fruits of applied science and technology,'' writes William Sykes.
"A big step forward was taken in my first term in Oxford. I found to some extent what I was looking for in the pages of the Gospels.'' writes William Sykes.
"I'm very impressed with the discoveries of science, and the enormous strides that have been made in applied technology in the twentieth century, but recognize there are several avenues that lead to truth—art, science, and spirit—and each needs to be respected,'' writes William Sykes.
"Noise has become one of the great pollutions of modern time. I know this only too well having spent the last thirty years in the centre of cities,'' writes William Sykes.
"In retrospect, I realize that I lived very much on the surface of things for the first twenty years of my life. At school I worked away to get through O levels, and then specialized in three subjects for A levels. In other areas of life my interest was mainly on sporting achievement. It was only later that I realized this was superficial,'' writes William Sykes.
"We acknowledged the valuable work done by the medical profession, the social services, families, relatives and friends, but perhaps the greatest integrating factor of all is God in the depths of our being—the One who heals and makes whole,'' writes William Sykes.
"Have we made overall progress?'' asks William Sykes. "We are aware now of the enormous cost to the environment and the dangers of running out of certain resources. We know how easily we can be destroyed at the press of a button. The media continue to feed us with horror-stories from all over the world.''
"Have we become too institutionalized in our church life and ended up as God's frozen people?'' muses William Sykes.
"In our short time in Calcutta we were besieged by beggars at every turn. Some were blind, others badly disabled, and many were destitute. It was difficult to know what to do for the best,'' writes William Sykes.
"I wonder if the practice of reflection has something to contribute to politicians of the future, possibly even a vision of hope,'' muses William Sykes.
...We do it wrong, being so majestical,
To offer it the show of violence;
For it is as the air invulnerable...
William Sykes presents a variety of thoughts on poetry and the nature of poets.
"At university the study of philosophy has become a very exacting academic discipline, far removed from the ordinary person. I have been greatly helped by some words of Lord Byron in which he wrote in his poem, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, of that untaught innate philosophy,'' writes William Sykes.
... 'Do you see what really happened Bill? Naaman wanted something dramatic to happen—perhaps a great victory so he would have earned his healing. In the end it was a simple act of faith that did it. That's what healed him.'...
William Sykes presents quotations extolling the efficacy of prayer.
"I could see in an instant he was pinpointing our great aim in life, namely, to grow a personality which is us at our highest level of development and expression,'' writes William Sykes, hard hit by words of the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung.
"With the odds against her she has managed to find a part-time job. There are some people you just have to admire,'' writes William Sykes, telling of a lady who has battled on through life despite an abundance of physical problems.
...I used to think of perfection in terms of ethics and behaviour. I no longer think in these terms... I now tend to think of perfection as wholeness, harmony, as a unity, as a oneness with God,'' writes William Sykes.
"When I returned to Ibadan, I described what had happened in a sermon in our church the following Sunday. I happened to mention the Federal troops had been looting: In retrospect this was a mistake, for shortly after the service ended a police landrover drew up and I was arrested. Someone must have reported me. Panic! What could I do?'' writes William Sykes, psenting thoughts on coping with panic.
William Sykes presents quotions designed to give hope to people in pain.
William Sykes, bringing further words of wisdom. tells of a man who "pbserved the opportunity''.
A week or so later a friend persuaded me to go and hear a certain preacher who was reputed to be outstanding. I went along, somewhat reluctantly. I can't remember a thing the preacher said now, but I was impressed. He was radiantly alive, and seemed to possess the very thing I was looking for
... I shall never forget a certain dawn when I was high up on Mount Kenya. When the sun came up it was possible to look down on a sea of cloud and to see Mount Kilimanjaro, two hundred miles away...
William Sykes brings thoughts and reflections on the wonders of nature.
"I wonder if in music we can see another variant and consequence of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God, and of the divine inbreathing.'' writes William Sykes.
Thge love of money is the root of all evil, writes William Sykes.
"I was impressed with the work of a missionary society in Nepal. They had been forbidden to proselytize by word of mouth so instead they built a hospital, near Pokhara, in the heart of western Nepal. The quality of their healing work and compassionate care spoke for itself, so something of the Gospel was proclaimed to those who used the hospital. It was well patronized,'' writes William Sykes.
William Sykes tells of the "Shining Hospital'' and reflects on the meaning of "mission''.
"The quotations which make up Visions of Hope have been gathered from the great minds of earlier generations. The practice of reflection is a way to develop our minds on these lines,'' writes William Sykes.
"Someone once asked me what I was trying to do in my anthologies and reflection groups. I had difficulty at first in giving a clear answer. In the end I settled for maturity, and went on to outline three areas in which people might benefit from using my books in the practice of reflection,'' writes William Sykes.
"I for one was hard hit by the impact of materialism. It's true there have been enormous benefits from the findings of science and technology, but at a cost. We can see this in the environment, and in the whole realm of personal relationships, and in the breakdown of traditional beliefs. We are now in danger of destroying ourselves, as materialism more and more becomes the order of the day,'' writes William Sykes.
"I find I'm surrounded by people with longings,'' writes William Sykes. "I sometimes wonder if our longing for God and quest for ultimate reality is the deepest longing of all.''
William Sykes brings thoughts on the purpose and origins of great literature.,
...Literature is rather an image of the spiritual world, than of the physical...
William Sykes focuses on the fundamental place of literature in our spiritual lives.
"I realized that in my prayer-life I was doing all the talking, almost telling God what to do. If God was indeed, in some mysterious way, in the depths of my being, then perhaps I ought to be taking a much more humble approach and listening to him instead of speaking,'' writes William Sykes.
"In our theological training we were told it was important to take a day off a week in our ministry. This is often difficult to do in a hectic term, so at Christmas, when college is closed, I make up for this by going to Switzerland to look after a church in Miirren, near Interlaken,'' writes William Sykes.
"Leadership skills are increasingly needed in modern society,'' writes William Sykes, bringing inspiring words on the subject from the Bible and a number of great writers and thinkers.
"Justice is important in all walks of life, and if lived out to the full, gives hope for the future,'' writes William Sykes.
"As regards religion he adopted the typical stance of the intellectual: unless he was let into all the secrets of the Creator, he would not believe. Hence he was an agnostic.''
William Sykes brings profound words on intellect and belief.
William Sykes considers the quality of absolute integrity and trustworthyness.
"Inspiration takes me back to my most original belief. In the Genesis story of the creation of man, God is depicted as-fashioning and shaping man in his own image and likeness, and the last thing he does is breathe into man and man becomes a living being—that is, man is fundamentally 'inspired','' writes William Sykes.
"There are certainly some very important institutional influences at work in our lives—home, school, higher education, state, Church, work, marriage, the media, and so on. Looking back over my life so far, I can see there have been many institutional forces at work which have helped to mould and fashion me,'' writes William Sykes.
There are certainly some very important institutional influences at work in our lives—home, school, higher education, state, Church, work, marriage, the media, and so on. Looking back over my life so far, I can see there have been many institutional forces at work which have helped to mould and fashion mem writes William Sykes.
"In my last year at school, I managed to come across a book by Ralph Waldo Trine, called In Tune with the Infinite. It belonged to my father and I found it hidden away in the cupboard of a display cabinet at home. One of the effects of reading this book was to trigger off a belief in immortality—a belief which has never left me,'' writes William Sykes.
"So much of modern education concentrates on the primacy of the intellect that we miss out on the imagination—much to our cost,'' writes William Sykes.
"I remember a programme on TV. A young woman, whose baby son had disappeared a year ago whilst they were on holiday on a Greek island, was being interviewed. She still hoped he would be found and that they would be reunited. There was something inside her which gave her hope, though she didn't know what it was,'' writes William Sykes.
"I remember it was dark inside the church and she hushed me to be quiet. In a spirit of awe and reverence we peeped into the manger. A light shone on the baby Jesus. There was a quiet atmosphere of holiness about the whole scene. It made a deep impression on me,'' writes William Sykes.
"An experience of 'healing' affected me greatly. It occurred in the Duke of York's Home in Bradford whilst visiting there as a part-time hospital chaplain. I knocked on a door of a single room and got a rather feeble 'come in''' writes William Sykes.
"I was guided by the principle that you only get out of life what you are prepared to put into it. Well, I'm still working on it. There have been many ups and downs but from time to time precious moments of contentment and happiness,'' writes William Sykes.
"When I was being prepared for confirmation at the age of sixteen, the school chaplain told us our main aim in life was 'to glorify God and enjoy him for ever'. This didn't mean much to me at the time. God was somehow put over as being 'out there' miles away beyond the clouds. 'Glorifying God' suggested an attitude of worship, with hands upraised towards the heavens. I was somehow meant to enjoy this for ever, but I was unable to enjoy it at all,'' writes William Sykes.
"I wonder if Albert Schweitzer will be acknowledged as the greatest person of the twentieth century. A man of remarkable academic ability, he had four doctorates—in philosophy, in theology, in music, and in medicine—and three of these were completed in his twenties,'' writes William Sykes.
"One of our former members of Univ. (University College, Oxford) worked in a L'Arche community for six months, as a preparation for the ordained ministry. He popped in to see me on his return to England. Living in such a community had not been easy, but he had learnt such a lot in the short space of time. When I asked him how he had managed to cope he looked at me quizzically, raised an eyebrow, and gave an answer in two words: 'Prayer, Bill', writes William Sykes in this meditation on the subject of goodness.
"I wonder if most of us settle down too quickly— in our work, in getting married, and in having families—at the cost of our freedom,'' writes William Sykes in this meditation on the subject of freedom.
"How then can we best cope with failure when it happens?'' asks William Sykes.
...life should be a voluntary overcoming of difficulties, those met with and those voluntarily created, otherwise it is just a dice-game...
William Sykes brings a collection of quotations on the subject of endurance.
"Over the years I have been impressed with the intellectual qualities of our fellows, post-graduates and undergraduates. University College is one of the top academic Oxford colleges, usually performing well in the Norrington table, until it was abolished recently. However I sometimes wonder if we are too one-sided in our system of education,'' writes William Sykes.
William Sykes brings a series of quotions which help us to journey from life's dar times, back into the light.
...Courage is far more common than is commonly supposed, and it belongs as much, and more, to the ordinary events of life than to the spectacular. Every man who lives in intimate contact with other people, especially the unprivileged people, is amazed at the quiet bravery of obscure folk. To those who have eyes to see, there is evidence of courage on every hand...
William Sykes brings a collection of quotations on the nature of courage.
"There was a tentative knock on my door at University College, Oxford. The door opened and one of our undergraduates entered the room. I was shocked by his appearance. His face was ashen white. Clearly something was seriously wrong. I invited him to sit down and made him a cup of tea,'' writes William Sykes.
"I have always been influenced by people of character. When I first went away to school, I was assigned a 'guardian'—a slightly older boy, who was to keep an eye on me and help me settle down. We became firm friends. Years later he became captain of school, played rugby for English Schoolboys, and has recently been made a bishop. He's always been to me a person of quality and character,'' writes William Sykes.
"Jesus worked out in his own experience of life what it meant to be made in the image and likeness of God. As such he became a pioneer, a prototype, an incarnation of beauty,'' writes William Sykes.
"For many people today, beauty is seen as something outside us, in nature, in such things as music, poetry and art, and in the beauty of another person. As such it can greatly enrich our lives. However, we seem to have lost the awareness that the essence of beauty lies in the depths of our being,'' writes William Sykes.
William Sykes brings us uplifting thoughts on Christian authdsority.
"What a valuable source of hope aspiration can be for us.'' writes William Sykes.
...The artist, of whatever kind, is a man so much aware of the beauty of the universe that he must impart the same beauty to whatever he makes...
William Sykes offers comforting and inspirational words on the subject of art.
William Sykes presents a series of quotations to help us face up to the anxiety which we all experience from time to time.
...Ambition is the spur that makes man struggle with destiny. It is heaven's own incentive to make purpose great and achievement greater....
William Sykes ponders on the nature of ambition.
...Old age is the most precious time of life, the one nearest eternity. There are two ways of growing old. There are old people who are anxious and bitter, living in the past and illusion, who criticise everything that goes on around them. Young people are repulsed by them; they are shut away in their sadness and loneliness, shrivelled up in themselves. But there are also old people with a child's heart, who have used their freedom from function and responsibility to find a new youth...
William Sykes presents profound thoughts on the subject of growing old.
"Sooner or later, we all come up against adversity in some shape or form. If faced with courage and determination, it can be put to good use and in turn be a great source of hope,'' writes William Sykes.
William Sykes tells more of his personal spiritual journey and quotes inspirational words which stir us to action.
William Sykes, for many years the chaplain of University College, Oxford, brings guidance through Scripture and the words of great writers and thinkers which can lead to a vision of hope.
The Reverend William Sykes recently retired as Chaplain and Fellow of University College, Oxford. Twenty years ago he lost his faith—and set out to find it again in a very unusual way.
In a preface to William's book, Visions of Hope, American lawyer Steve Sheppard wrote "Bill Sykes has grappled with our demons. The mundane, modern demons that stalk the early hours of doubt and fear.''
Visions Of Hope, which will be serialised on forthcoming Sundays in Open Writing, is a record of Bill's struggles, taken from his remarkable readings across the spectrum of Christian and other writings, from saints and from sinners.