WENDELL BERRY

Emissaries

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          The work pace has been relentlessly and exceptionally brutal since June. Often I feel as if some hidden force has unsheathed itself here, dragging us, forcing us to speeds and depths that don’t always work out for our individual or collective good. This week was no exception. I stumbled home each day barely able to think straight, much less pray. Not being able to say my night Rosary bugged me because I had promised to pray it for a blog pal. But I just couldn’t. Every night this week I worked on plans and reports and projects late into the sable hours.

          I mourned over this.

          And then, a tiny bell chimed.

Come into the peace of wild things

          It was like the glimpse of land from where I was on the stormy seas. Wendell Berry’s Come into the peace of wild things was the harbour I sought. Suddenly, I felt hope light up within me. Unconsciously, a change silvered into my spirit. Despite the mountains that awaited me each morning at work, despite the continuing hurt by a colleague, a stillness began to descend into me.

          And I began to hear birds.

          I began to hear them as never before. A joyous chirping from deep in the green breast of trees. Every time I heard them, no matter how much I had to get done, I slowed down and accepted the avian song~gift the angels brought me. Then, I read of a woman who had suffered so long and so terribly that she reached the point of ending her life. As she was about to, she saw a bird fly by gently before her. And as it did, it took away her desire to leave this world before her time.

          Birds again. Birds bringing life.

          I began to wonder if there was more to birds that was coming to me at this time. Was it a sign of something?

          The next day, pondering some mounting difficulties, I thought of the word ‘mantle’. And my thoughts went to Our Lady’s mantle that I had prayed for. The very next second, I read Our Lady of Guadalupe’s words,

Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under My protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within My fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.

          The apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico to Juan Diego had been preceded by the sweetest birdsong. As I looked over the little signs, the birds, their song, the prayer invoking the Mantle and finally, Our Lady of Guadalupe’s words, I knew that my heavenly Mother was making it known to me that She was by my side in the fire of work and in the bitterness of hurt.

          The little birds had been Her emissaries. Through their lilting serenades and gentle presence, Mother had sent them, to remind us that we are not alone even if we think we are.

Come Into The Peace of Wild Things

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When despair 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 for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.   ~   Wendell Berry      

 

          A break from work beckons. So does a whole ton of work. I am worn out and stand at the edges of a burnout.

How long more, Lord? I ask. How long more?

          I want to live again. To feel alive and free. To feel the hope that I believe in and know is there. I want to work, not quit. I want to love and care for my family, not leave. But the air that is for our living must be made new, the water that flows through the existence here be purified.

          Hope cannot birth and bloom until the poison in the wellsprings is cleansed.

          This cannot be rushed. And yet, today, I can no longer wait, for the fist of life as it is here is tightening its hold, choking out breath.

How long more, Lord? I ask. How long more?

          He does not give me my answer, and yet answer me He does.

When despair grows… go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

Come into the peace of wild things, says my Lord to me.