O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

My Literary Earworms

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?

Comments read comments(6)
post a comment

posted June 18, 2008 at 10:25 am

1.”Hey, Big Guys, Open your eyes. What do you say? It’s a brand new day!(First line of Hey! Wake up!, by Sandra Boynton, because that’s how I think my son Owen wakes up every morning…what new things will he do today?)2.”I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice…”(First line of A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving, because that is how I feel about this book. It is my favorite book, but it is also the only book that has ever made me cry. I’ve only been able to read it once so far. It probably won’t help now that it’s my son’s name, but I will read it again one day.)

report abuse


posted June 18, 2008 at 1:35 pm

“I am the problem.”Don Miller, Blue Like Jazz”Bird by Bird son, take it bird by bird.”Anne Lammott, Bird by Bird

report abuse

Bo Lane

posted June 19, 2008 at 1:56 am

“Such moments generally cross our lives when we least expect them, but when they do, our actions and responses say everything about us for weeks, or months or years to come.”(A line from Pete Greig’s book Red Moon Rising pg 47-48)Funny that you mention “Goodnight Moon” … that’s my son’s favorite book too. In fact, I end all of my Unsigned Hour radio shows with that line – dedicating them to my son. Aww … single tear.

report abuse

Susanne Barrett

posted June 19, 2008 at 3:57 am

I have so many that they’re hard to pin down. But here are a few …1. “Laughter is carbonated holiness.” — Anne Lamott, Plan B2. “Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road….” — James Joyce, opening lines of Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man 3. “‘It is so difficult — at least I find it difficult — to understand people who speak the truth.'” — Mr. Beebe in E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View4. “The only hypocrite I have to worry about on Sunday morning is myself.” — Kathleen Norris in The Cloister Walk5. “There’s a certain Slant of light,/ Winter Afternoons –/ That oppresses, like the Heft/ Of Cathedral Tunes….” — Emily Dickinson, opening lines of 2586. “There is something beautiful about a billion stars held steady by a God who knows what He is doing.” — Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz7. “It is a positive crime to be weak in God’s strength.” — Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest, April 14And if you were to start an “earthworms” post on movie quotes, I think we’d come up with some great ones….

report abuse


posted June 19, 2008 at 10:35 am

“Jean Valjean, my brother: you belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from dark thoughts and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God!”- from Les Miserables by Victor HugoThis is one of literature’s best redemption scenes EVER!

report abuse


posted June 19, 2008 at 10:47 am

My earworms, though not strictly prose:From a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins describing God’s Grandeur: “It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil crushed.” “I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome I took some comfort there.” (Paul Simon, “The Boxer”). That’s one among the many Paul Simon lines that frequently bounce around my head.”Never tease a weasel . . . the weasel will not like it, and teasing isn’t nice.” (Jean Conder Soule, “Never Tease a Weasel”).

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting O Me Of Little Faith. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent ...

posted 2:25:22pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Farewell, O Me of Little Faith
You said you had a big announcement coming today. What is it? The announcement is this: Right now you are reading the final post on this blog. Ever. Ever? Ever. So you're shutting this blog down? Well, I'm going to stop writing ...

posted 6:11:49am Jun. 01, 2011 | read full post »

My Introvert Interview
On Monday, author Adam McHugh delivered a guest post about the "snarling 8-headed monster" of the writing process. Today I return the favor -- sort of -- via an interview at his blog, Introverted Church. We talk about how my introverted ...

posted 3:05:36pm May. 25, 2011 | read full post »

Harold Camping: "Invisible Judgment Day"
When the rapture didn't occur as predicted on May 21, 2011, Harold Camping had a few options. Here is how he could have responded to the failed prediction, in descending levels of crazy: 1. He could announce that he was wrong. This is the ...

posted 9:06:24am May. 24, 2011 | read full post »

The Phases of Writing (Adam McHugh)
If you've ever felt out of place among all the exciting, expressive, emotional enthusiasm of a contemporary church service...or an evangelist's demands that you need to constantly be sharing your faith boldly to strangers...if it simply wipes ...

posted 7:46:00am May. 23, 2011 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.