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WHAT WE NEED IS HERE

Geese appear high over us,

pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,

as in love or sleep, holds

them to their way, clear

in the ancient faith: what we need

is here. And we pray, not

for new earth or heaven, but to be

quiet in heart, and in eye,

clear. What we need is here.

– Wendell Berry –

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THE FUTURE

For God’s sake, be done
with this jabber of “a better world.”
What blasphemy! No “futuristic”
twit or child thereof ever
in embodied light will see
a better world than this, though they
foretell inevitably a worse.
Do something! Go cut the weeds
beside the oblivious road. Pick up
the cans and bottles, old tires,
and dead predictions. No future
can be stuffed into this presence
except by being dead. The day is
clear and bright, and overhead
the sun not yet half finished
with his daily praise.

– WENDELL BERRY –

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We’ve had a rocky road with our internet provider of late. At last things are up and running smoothly (for the moment). A great test of patience and emotional fortitude.

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How To Be a Poet
(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill — more of each
than you have — inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
There are only sacred places
And desecrated places.

– WENDELL BERRY –

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WORK SONG, part 2: A Vision

If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it…
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides…
The river will run
clear, as we will never know it…
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields…
Memory,
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisaical dream.
Its hardship is its reality.

– WENDELL BERRY –

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No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And so you have become a sort of tree
standing over the grave.
Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.

– WENDELL BERRY –

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Today, I follow my well-beaten path across the county to visit with my Dad. The air is thick; humid…visible over the fields of corn and freshly cut and rolled hay. He has left numerous messages this week–confused, sounding ever more like his own father…voice mumbling and trailing off. Yesterday, he didn’t recognize my daughter, Grace. She came home in tears–“Mom, Grampie looks so small…you have to get him out of there…bring him home!”

I park the car, not knowing what to expect. I am armed with the usual treats. No ice cream, but chocolate-covered, mint-filled Oreo cookies, white chocolate-covered pretzels and a can of “deluxe” assorted cashews, pecans, and macadamia nuts.

He’s in his room and is surprisingly lucid. Together, we look through a scrapbook that I made for his 80th birthday. That year, I sent a letter to everyone on his Christmas card list, requesting memories, photos, something to commemorate the occasion. I read aloud amazing letters from family and friends–former neighbors, fraternity brothers, secretaries, people from all over the world that he recruited or helped to find jobs. It helps us both to remember the man he was then.

Leaving him in the care of a kind staff of strangers is difficult beyond words.

-THE WISH TO BE GENEROUS –

ALL that I serve will die, all my delights,
the flesh kindled from my flesh, garden and field,
the silent lilies standing in the woods,
the woods, the hill, the whole earth, all
will burn in man’s evil, or dwindle
in its own age. Let the world bring on me
the sleep of darkness without stars, so I may know
my little light taken from me into the seed
of the beginning and the end, so I may bow
to mystery, and take my stand on the earth
like a tree in a field, passing without haste
or regret toward what will be, my life
a patient willing descent into the grass.

– WENDELL BERRY –

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WHAT WE NEED IS HERE

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

– WENDELL BERRY –

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