Wendell Berry

Prayer is like lying awake at night

Prayer is like lying awake at night, afraid, with your head under the cover, hearing only the beating of your own heart. It is like a bird that has blundered down the flue and is caught indoors and flutters at the window panes. . . . But sometimes a prayer comes that you have not thought to pray, yet suddenly there it is and you pray it. . . . Sometimes the bird finds that what looks like an opening is an opening, and it flies away.

~ from JAYBER CROW by Wendell Berry

I could die in peace, I think if the world was beautiful

Her eyes filled with tears, but she said quietly, "I could die in peace, I think, if the world was beautiful. To know it's being ruined is hard."

Then, in the loss of all the world, when I might have said the words I had so long wanted to say, I could not say them. I saw that I was not going to be able to say them. I saw that I was not going to talk without crying, and so I cried.

She looked at me and held out her hand. She gave me the smile that I had never seen and will not see again in this world, and it covered me all over with light.

~ from JAYBER CROW by Wendell Berry

What we need is here -- we pray to be quiet in heart

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

Wilderness as sacred groves

The survival of wilderness -- of places that we do not change, where we allow the existence of creatures we perceive as dangerous -- is necessary. Our sanity probably requires it. These places function, whether we intend them to or not, as sacred groves -- places we respect and leave alone, not because we understand well what goes on there, but because we do not.

~ from GETTING ALONG WITH NATURE by Wendell Berry

Love includes the world and time as a pregnant woman includes her child

Love, sooner or later, forces us out of time. It does not accept limit. Of all that we feel and do, all the virtues and all the sins, love alone crowds us at last over the edge of the world. For love is not explainable or even justifiable. Love itself is the justifier. We do not make it. If it did not happen to us, we could not imagine it. Love includes the world and time as a pregnant woman includes her child whose wrongs she will suffer and forgive. Love is in the world but is not altogether of it. It is of eternity. It takes us there when it most holds us here.
~ from JABER CROW by Wendell Berry

I part the out thrusting branches

I part the out thrusting branches
and come in beneath
the blessed and the blessing trees.
Though I am silent
there is singing around me.
Though I am dark
there is vision around me.
Though I am heavy
there is flight around me.

~ "Woods" by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

~ "The Peace of Wild Things" by Wendell Berry

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

I go among trees and sit still

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

~ from SABBATHS by Wendell Berry

To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation

That is not to suggest that we can live harmlessly, or strictly at our own expense; we depend upon other creatures and survive by their deaths. To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want.

~ from "Nature's Way" by Wendell Berry
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