Yesterday, a dear couple shared their faith stories, and at the end of his sharing, our friend David read Wendell Berry's Manifesto: The Mad Farmer's Liberation Front, a piece that reduces me to tears for its beauty and rightness, and yesterday one which spoke to me in a particularly deep way. The Mister and I are navigating an especially difficult conflict at present; he'd chosen not to accompany the boy and I to church. And this piece, so holy and extraordinary in its ordinaryiness, was read by our officiating reverend and dear friend Bill, at our wedding.
Manifesto: The Made Farmer's Liberation Front, by Wendell Berry
Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
On the day we wed, in our livingroom, with an intimate group of friends and family around us, Bill charged us to, "Plant sequoias," and to "Practice resurrection." His wife, Kaki, dear friend and mentor as well as the other officiant at our wedding, placed her message in the pumpkin we passed round for messages, wishes, and prayers. It was a little scoop of soil with a tangle of roots and seeds.
In times like these, we must remember both, Love the Lord, Love the World, Work for nothing. Take all you have and be poor. AND to: Love someone who does not deserve it.
The way is not easy. Living in a God filled world charges us not to profess to a prescribed narrative or transubstantiation or to limit our contact to those who look and think as we do. Rather, it charges us to open our hearts and arms wide and wider still, to become radically inclusive. To prepare the world by planting seeds we will not live to see bear fruit.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
|Just married, on the way to toss the pumpkin into the ravine. October 2002.|
Addendum: Yesterday's worship service was centered on the message Remembering our Baptism. I rose and walked toward the altar rail to be blessed by baptismal water by Lanecia, our youth pastor, my friend, and someone I admire greatly. I remembered my struggle in the year previous, whether to participate in this ritual or not, and ultimately circling back to what my son expressed of baptism, in simply "UH-cepting the love of God that's already there."