Finding rest in our song

All week, I have been drawn to Wendell Berry’s poem, Sabbath I.

It wasn’t because I was exhausted and in need of physical relaxation. Yet, sitting with his words, I realised my need for a deeper rest. And gave in.

Letting a poem speak to your soul is profound because it does not simply offer information in exchange for attention.

Instead, it asks for vulnerability to let the searchlight of the words penetrate deeper than your mind might be able to go.

And you can’t switch it off and say it’s finished by simply closing the book. It will be done when its work is done, and not before.

So here it is, the lingering words of promise from the Kentucky farmer-poet.

SABBATH POEMS I

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.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

+ Wendell Berry, from ‘The Peace of Wild Things & Other Poems’, Penguin 2018

Go gently and listen for your song.

Pause. See differently. Re-story 🌿

This week

A few good words

Dr Kathryn Mannix gave the 2023 Theos Annual Lecture. Some of you will be familiar with her work on listening and having difficult conversations as a palliative care doctor. The lecture enabled us to hear her insights into the lack of our experience of death and dying and its consequences (and she is a fantastic storyteller).

The whole lecture is worth listening to: Dying for Beginners: how understanding death can help us to live better. However, if you only have 5 minutes, then her brilliant short video on Dying for Beginners is outstanding and suitable for sharing widely.

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