Beliefnet
O Me of Little Faith

Any lover of books and stories has certain lines that stick with them — phrases and sentences that, for whatever reason, embed themselves in your consciousness like a literary earworm. (An earworm is a snippet of a song that gets “stuck in your head.”)

There are a few lines I know by heart that float through my brain at least every few weeks or so. When they do, it’s always a good thing. A good memory. A good thought. Here are some of them…

1. “I am haunted by waters.”

(Opening line of A River Runs Through It, by Norman Maclean. Probably my favorite line in all of literature, because it resonates with me on some deep, watery level I can’t really explain. I think of it every time I step into a trout stream, or encounter a waterfall, or see the ocean.)

2. “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue?”

(Sam, after being rescued by the eagles, in The Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I sure hope Sam is right.)

3. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “Don’t you hear anything Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

(About Aslan, in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. This one’s probably a cliche, but there you go.)

4. “Later he saw Jesus move from tree to tree in the back of his mind, a wild ragged figure motioning him to turn around and come off into the dark where he was not sure of his footing…”

(About protagonist Hazel Motes, in Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood. I love that image…being pursued into a dark uncertainty by the “wild ragged” Jesus.)

5. “In the great green room, there was a telephone, and a red balloon, and a picture of the cow jumping over the moon, and there were three little bears sitting on chairs…”

(The opening lines to Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown. This was both of my kids’ first favorite book, and I’ve probably read it aloud at least 500 times.)

These are mine. What are your literary earworms?

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