Dana VanderLugt | Writer

30 Days of Gratitude: Sentence Edition

by | Nov 1, 2020 | On living, On Reading, On teaching, On Writing | 0 comments

The Power of a Good Sentence | The Walrus

In 2018, I celebrated November by posting a book each day that I love. In November of 2020, I’ll be celebrating beautiful sentences. You are welcome to join me! #beautifulnovembersentences.

During a year when there is so much pain and struggle around us, we could all use a little more time focusing on beauty.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane: DiCamillo, Kate, Ibatoulline,  Bagram: 9780763625894: Amazon.com: Books

Sunday, Nov. 1

“Perhaps,” said the man, “you would like to be lost with us. I have found it much more agreeable to be lost in the company of others.”

-Kate DiCamillo, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

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Monday, Nov. 2

“Real writing, I was beginning to realize, was more like laying bricks than waiting for lightning to strike.”

-Paula McLain, Love and Ruin


Tuesday, Nov. 3

“Some days I am not sure if my faith is riddled with doubt or whether, graciously, my doubt is riddled with faith.”

-Lauren Winner, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis

Telling Secrets

Wednesday, Nov. 4

“I also saw for what was maybe the first time in my life that we are called to love our neighbors not just for our neighbor’s sake but for our own sake, and when John wrote, “He who does not love remains in death (1 John 3:14), he was stating a fact of nature as inconvertible as gravity.”

-Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets

Thursday, Nov. 5

relief cover 2020.JPG

“Arriving again at the liturgy of turning screws,

knowing that anything attached can be undone,

I ungroove and stare at a bared level of design,

an engine that has run and might again…

— “Early Death and the Liturgy of Turning Screws,” by Fred Johnson in the Spring 2020 edition of Relief Journal

Charlotte's Web: White, E. B, Williams, Garth: 9780061124952: Amazon.com:  Books

Friday, Nov. 6

“Fern was up at daylight, trying to rid the world of injustice. As a result, she now has a pig. A small one to be sure, but nevertheless a pig. It just shows what can happen if a person gets out of bed promptly.”

― E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web

Saturday, Nov. 7

Don’t expect much
of the day. Be glad when
you make it back to bed.
Be glad he threw out that
box of old hats. Be glad
she leaves her shoes
in the hall. Snow will
come. Spring will show up.
Summer will be humid.
The leaves will fall
in the fall. That’s more
than you need. 

— Jack Ridl, “Take Love for Granted,” Practicing to Walk Like a Heron

Sunday, Nov. 8

The Wednesday Wars

“Think of the sound you make when you let go after holding your breath for a very, very long time. Think of the gladdest sound you know: the sound of dawn on the first day of spring break, the sound of a bottle of Coke opening, the sound of a crowd cheering in your ears because you’re coming down to the last part of a race–and you’re ahead. Think of the sound of water over stones in a cold stream, and the sound of wind through green trees on a late May afternoon in Central Park. Think of the sound of a bus coming into the station carrying someone you love. Then put all those together.”

— Gary Schmidt, The Wednesday Wars

Monday, Nov. 9

“The wind frolicked with the rigging, the screw throbbed, the waves lashed, the hammocks creaked, but the ear had long ago become accustomed to these sounds, and it seemed that everything around was asleep and silent.”

— Anton Chekhov, Gusev

Tuesday, Nov. 10


“Forgiveness. The ability to forgive oneself. Stop here for a few breaths and think about this because it is the key to making art, and very possibly the key to finding any semblance of happiness in life.”

— Ann Patchett, “The Getaway Car” in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Wednesday, Nov. 11

The Orchard: A Memoir

“I had learned the art of seeing from my father. Faced all his life with the threat of blindness, he began in middle age to cultivate what he called his ‘inner eye,’ and in order to keep it fed with impressions, he studied with intense concentration the world around him. When we worked with the pruning saw and shears in the orchard on winter afternoons, he studied the apple buds — how they lay close to the twig, folded tight, protecting the green heart of the spring leaf against the cold of winter.”

— Adele Crockett Robertson, The Orchard

Thursday, Nov. 12

“In downtown Greenville,

they painted over the WHITE ONLY signs,

except on the bathroom doors,

they didn’t use a lot of paint

so you can still see the words, right there

like a ghost standing in front

still keeping you out.”

–Jacqueline Woodson, “Ghosts,” from Brown Girl Dreaming

Friday, Nov. 13

“I believe that love is better than hate. And that there is more nobility in building a chicken coop than in destroying a cathedral.”

— Bette Greene, Summer of my German Soldier

Plainsong (Plainsong, #1)

Saturday, Nov. 14

“You’re going to die someday without ever having had enough trouble in your life. Not of the right kind anyway.”
― Kent Haruf, Plainsong

Sunday, Nov. 15

Mariah West, “Shabbat

“The Sabbath apprentices us in the practice of present-tense living. It invites us to slow down, to abandon the rat-race for one day each week, to release our white-knuckle grip on our lives and lean into trust, to open our hearts to gratitude, to remember what brings us delight and then to do that.”

— Travis West, “The Sabbath, Time, and Presence,” The Twelve Blog

St Gregory of Nyssa  Colors

Monday, Nov. 16

“Let us remember that the life in which we ought to be interested is ‘daily’ life. We can, each of us, only call the present time our own…

Our Lord tells us to pray for today, and so he prevents us from tormenting ourselves about tomorrow. It is as if he were to say to us: `He who gives you this day will also give you what you need for this day. He it is who makes the sun to rise. He it is who scatters the darkness of night and reveals to you the rays of the sun.”

— Gregory of Nyssa, in a sermon from the 4th century

Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs: Fennelly, Beth Ann: 9780393609479:  Amazon.com: Books

Tuesday, Nov. 17

“As we lower onto the December-cold pleather seats of the mini-van, we knock hands: both of us reaching to turn on each other’s seat warmer first.”

— Beth Ann Fennelly, Heating and Cooling, “Married Love, III”

Learning to Walk in the Dark

Wednesday, Nov. 18

“I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.”

― Barbara Brown Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark

Thursday, Nov. 19


“In Sarajevo, a man, half-Serb, who’d just had both legs blown off by a Serbian shelling, told me a child needs his father even if he’s just sitting in the corner. Life is a struggle but we must seize it, for hope is the last to die.”

-Roger Cohen, “Au Revoir but Not Adieu,” New York Times

Out of My Mind

Friday, Nov. 20

“The morning started out like crystal, but the day has turned to broken glass.”

–Sharon Draper, Out of my Mind

Saturday, Nov. 21


More and more I have come to admire resilience.

Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam

returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous

tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,

it turns in another. A blind intelligence, true.

But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers,

mitochondria, figs — all this resinous, unretractable earth.

Jane Hirshfield

Photo: Ilse Orsel

Sunday, Nov. 22

“Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless. “Come. Sit down. Let’s argue this out.” 

– Isaiah 1: 17-18a, The Message

Monday, Nov. 23

“The ICU is quieter than usual. It’s three hours past visiting time, and I feel a strange sense of privilege in being here so late, like being the last to leave a party or the only one awake in a sleeping house.”

-Rebecca Turkewitz, “After Hours,” published in RiverTeeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative

Tuesday, Nov. 24

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

“There were big days and there were small days and there were bad days and there were good days and I suppose I could pick any one of ’em for my ‘once upon a time.’ But if I’m gonna be truthful — and truthful is something I always aim to be — then really there is only one best place to start this story.”

-Dan Gemeinhart, The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith

Wednesday, Nov. 25

“Hope is subversive precisely because it dares to admit that all is not as it should be.”

-Sarah Bessey, Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith

Winnie-the-Pooh: Classic Gift Edition by A. A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard,  Hardcover | Barnes & Noble®

Thursday, Nov. 26

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”

-A.A. Milne

Lichtman, Susan_Orchard Bag and Bouquet
Susan Lichtman (American, 1952–), Orchard Bag and Bouquet, 2015. Oil on linen, 24 × 22 in.

Friday, Nov. 27


So many cars have driven past me
without a head-on collision.
I started counting them today:
there were a hundred and nine
on the way to the grocery,
a hundred and two on the way back home.
I got my license
when I was seventeen.
I’ve driven across country
at least twelve times;
I even drive
late Saturday nights.
I shall not want.

-Marilyn Nelson, The Fields of Praise; found in Ten Poems of Gratitude

Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day

Saturday, Nov. 28

“Our being is often crowded out by our doing. Each day we are summoned to be creators of the present moment. Artists know the value of white space. Sometimes what isn’t there enables us to see what is.”

-Macrina Wiederkehr, Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day

Sunday, Nov. 29

The Dutch House

“But we overlay the present onto the past. We look back through the lens of what we know now, so we’re not seeing it as the people we were, we’re seeing it as the people we are, and that means the past has been radically altered.”

-Ann Patchett, The Dutch House

Fig Pudding

Monday, Nov. 30

“When someone you love dies, you get a big bowl of sadness put down in front of you, steaming hot. You can start eating now, or you can let it cool and eat it bit by bit later on. Either way, you end up eating the whole thing. There’s really no way around it.”

-Ralph Fletcher, Fig Pudding


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