I never heard of the author Wendell Berry until last year. In a fortuitous coincidence, I came across his writings in Oxford educated Sarah Clarkson’s book Book Girl and in the irreverent, but ruggedly individualist-comedic Nick Offerman’s Gumption. I was piqued by the samples of writing, and after receiving his Leavings compilation of poetry via interlibrary loans, I was mesmerized.
This month I was also able to dust off my camera lens and embark on a photoshoot. It was a triumph…my violinist-model serenaded me with Beethoven and Elvis Presley whilst we traipsed around moss ladened ground and heard turtles and larger reptiles slither into the marshes.
So, to honor the legend that is Wendell, I’m accompanying some slivers of his poetry and quotations to the portraits we accomplished.
(“How to Be A Poet”)
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.
It is not from ourselves that we learn to be better than we are.
But a mute blessedness
Exceeding all distress,
The fresh light stained a hundred shades of green.
This, I thought, is what is meant by ‘thy will be done’ in the Lord’s Prayer, which I had prayed time and again without thinking about it. It means that your will and God’s will may not be the same. It means there’s a good possibility that you won’t get what you pray for. It means that in spite of your prayers you are going to suffer.
(from “The bell calls in town”)
I leave work’s daily rule
And come here to this restful place
Where music stirs the pool
And from high stations of the air
Fall notes of wordless grace,
Strewn remnants of the primal Sabbath’s hymn.
Uproar of wheel and fire
That has contained us like a cell
Opens and lets us hear
A stillness longer than all time
Where leaf and song fulfill
The passing light, pass with the light, return,
Renewed, as in rhyme.
This is no human vision
Subject to our revision;
God’s eye holds every leaf as light is worn.
We travelers, walking to the sun,
can’t see ahead, but looking back the very light
That blinded us shows us the way we came,
Along which blessings now appear, risen
As if from sightlessness to sight, and we,
By blessing brightly lit, keep going toward
That blessed light that yet to us is dark.
(“The Peace of Wild Things”)
I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief… For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.