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Ireland 2005 504

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. Find it in his Selected Poems.

Thanks to my friend Matt Sitman for bringing this one to my attention. If you don’t read Matthew’s work on Commonweal magazine, I recommend you do. You can start with his newest piece, “Sex and the Synod”, about the church’s posture toward the sexual revolution. I especially liked this:

The task of genuine Christian discernment in these matters is to sift through the gains and losses of the sexual revolution rather than dismiss it in one swoop and reply only with a steadfast no. Christians, and the church, must be able to distinguish between learning from history and experience and simply being fashionable. There really is a difference…

In his opening homily at the Synod on Monday, Pope Francis spoke of a “Church that journeys together to read reality with the eyes of faith and with the heart of God.” That posture of critical openness, of believing the realities we experience might actually teach us something, finds its negation in Reno’s no. It all reminds me of a line from a favorite novel of mine, found in a letter written by an aging minister to his son: “Nothing true can be said about God from a posture of defense.”

It echoes Updike’s liberating response about his belief, pulled from this interview:

Questioner: I remember reading that you said that other belief systems were religions of No, and you chose a religion of Yes.

John Updike: Yes, I did. And that terminology I got from Karl Barth, who I found of the twentieth century theologians to be the most comforting as well as the most uncompromising. He does dismiss all attempts to make theism naturalistic… He’s very definite that it’s Scripture and nothing else. I find this hard to swallow, but I like to see Barth’s swallowing it, and I like his tone of voice. He talks about the Yes and No of life, and says he loves Mozart more than Bach because Mozart expresses the Yes of life.

I took the above shot in Ireland.

Three more from Berry:

Berry Center