You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Wendell for Wednesday’ tag.
I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything more romantic…
The Blue Robe
By Wendell Berry
How joyful to be together, alone
as when we first were joined
in our little house by the river
long ago, except that now we know
each other, as we did not then;
and now instead of two stories fumbling
to meet, we belong to one story
that the two, joining, made. And now
we touch each other with the tenderness
of mortals, who know themselves:
how joyful to feel the heart quake
at the sight of a grandmother,
old friend in the morning light,
beautiful in her blue robe!
I apologize for my absence here – it has been a crazy and exciting few weeks. Last week, our creation care ministry was approved as a Partner of Grace Church, which is a tremendous vote of confidence in our new ministry and opens many, many doors for us going forward. Then last weekend was our Weekend of Service, in which we had over 400 people participating in caring for creation around central Indiana. Over the weekend and in the days since, I have felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for what God is doing at Grace and beyond when it comes to His command to us to care for His creation. I thought this poem of Wendell’s was appropriate:
“That we live now in an economy that is not sustainable is not the fault only of a few mongers of power. We are all implicated. We all, in the course of our daily economic life, consent to it whether or not we approve of it.”
Wendell Berry, in his Jefferson Lecture
“All of us who are living owe our lives directly to our connection with the land. I am not talking about the connection that is implied by such a term as ‘environmentalism.’ I am talking about the connection that we make economically, by work, by living, by making a living. This connection, as we see every day, is going to be either familiar, affectionate and saving or distant, uncaring and destructive.”
Wendell Berry, in a recent speech
In the woods, the bucket is no metaphor; it simply reveals what is always happening in the woods, if the woods is let alone. Of course, in most places in my part of the country, the human community did not leave the woods alone. It felled the trees, and replaced them with pastures and crops. But this did not revoke the law of the woods, which is that the ground must be protected by a cover of vegetation, and that the growth of the years must return—or be returned—to the ground to rot and build soil. A good local culture, in one of its most important functions, is a collection of the memories, ways, and skills necessary for the observance, within the bounds of domesticity, of this natural law. If the local culture cannot preserve and improve the local soil, then, as both reason and history inform us, the local community will decay and perish, and the work of soil-building will be resumed by nature.
A human community, then, if it is to last long, must exert a sort of centripetal force, holding local soil and local memory in place. Practically speaking, human society has no work more important than this. Once we have acknowledged this principle, we can only be alarmed at the extent to which it has been ignored.
I’m sure I’ve already used this one before, but it’s one of my favorites (and I’m having trouble keeping track of what I’ve used and what I haven’t!).
We’re members of each other—all of us—everything. The difference is not whether you are or not, but whether you know you are or not. Because we’re all under each other’s influence. We’re all are affected by one another’s others lives and decisions. And there is no escape from this membership.
From a Sabbath poem:
Because we have not made our lives to fit
our places, the forests are ruined, the fields eroded,
the streams polluted, the mountains overturned.
The solution, many times more complex and difficult, would be to go beyond our ideas, obviously insane, of war as the way to peace and of permanent damage to the ecosphere as the way to wealth. Actually to help our suffering of one man-made horror after another, we would have to revise radically our understanding of economic life, of community life, of work, and of pleasure. We employ thousands of scientists and spend billions of dollars to reduce matter to its smallest particles and to search for farther stars. How many scientists and how many dollars are devoted to harmony between economy and ecology, or to amity and lenity in the face of conflict?
To learn to meet our needs without continuous violence against one another and our only world would require an immense intellectual and practical effort, requiring the help of every human being perhaps to the end of human time.
This would be work worthy of the name “human.” It would be fascinating and lovely.
From The Art of the Commonplace:
Another decent possibility that my critics implicitly deny is that of work as a gift. …what appears to infuriate them is their supposition that [my wife] works for nothing. They assume—and this is the orthodox assumption of the industrial economy—that the only help worth giving is not given at all, but sold. Love, friendship, neighborliness, compassion, duty—what are they? We are realists. We will be most happy to receive your check.
One of the primary results–and one of the primary needs–of industrialism is the separation of people and places and products from their histories. To the extent that we participate in the industrial economy, we do not know the histories of our families or of our habitats or of our meals. This is an economy, and in fact a culture, of the one-night stand. “I had a good time,” says the industrial lover, “but don’t ask me my last name.” Just so, the industrial eater says to the svelte industrial hog, “We’ll be together at breakfast. I don’t want to see you before then, and I won’t care to remember you afterwards.”
Wendell Berry, from the essay, “The Whole Horse”