On this All Hallows’ Eve, a few days before our country will attempt to make a collective decision about the leadership of the highest offices of government, and in the midst of the death of much of what we think of as good and right and sacred, I’m thinking about who I am as a person, and who we are as a people and as a country. I’m thinking about what are the ways of being that we want to let go of and what we want to resurrect.
Gone is the ability to plan for or count on much of anything I had come to think of as “normal”. Gone is any naïveté that my country is made up of people who all have good hearts, and wish the best for everyone, or that have the ability to think critically, or want a country that lives up to its founding ideals. It seems we must let go of everything that is false.
Three times in as many weeks, I’ve encountered and have been reminded of a powerful poem that I first read over 25 years ago by Wendell Berry. In 1973 Berry published “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”.
Here are several excerpts that spoke to me back then, and still speak now:
“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.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. 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.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
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.
May we resurrect compassion that is full of peace and justice. May we honor the sacredness of all life. Let us bring forth deep intuition and creativity, embracing the things that matter most, supporting each other on this sacred journey that is life, cultivating uncommon wisdom that can learn to see the sacred and divine in each another and in all things of the Earth and cosmos.
*“Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” from The Country of Marriage, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. 1973. Also published by Counterpoint Press in The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, 1999