Today, I drove into town to pick something up. When I say I drove into town, it is true that I drove into town because that’s what you do when you live in the country, you drive into town. Living in Dellrose, my drive into town is now about 40 minutes round trip. This gives me plenty of time to do something other than listen to music.
Wanting to use my time wisely, I thought I’d relisten to Wendell Berry’s The Pleasures of Eating on Audible. If you have Audible, then you can find Berry’s book The World-Ending Fire. It’s one of my favorites and a must for anyone interested in agriculture, land use, rural communities, health, food and our responsibilities as creatures, who live in this amazing gift of creation.
When I listen to Wendell Berry, I have to admit it undoes me. It feels like it’s piercing my spirit, heart, mind and body. There’s just so much there. On many levels, I feel frustrated for Wendell Berry. Even more, I feel deep compassion and empathy for a man, who foresaw the consequences of decisions being made 50 and 60 years ago and then spent his life repeatedly trying to warn us about the point where we have now arrived. I feel despair when I think about the point where we are in agriculture, our epidemics of diet-related disease and sickness, our apathy, arrogance and ignorance, and the deterioration of our schools, communities and lands. I feel guilt for not thinking about all this stuff sooner and for being a mindless consumer for most of my life. Now more than ever, I feel responsibility to reconnect health, agriculture and community, and since moving to Dellrose, I feel the crushing weight of opportunities that I have been given to do something.
Just the forty minutes, I spent listening to Wendell Berry’s essay on my drive into town made me angry, sad, overwhelmed and inspired. By words of truth, I am left not knowing whether to cry, repent, curse or throw up. I guess, this is the best way I know how to take all the raw emotion and do something positive, in hopes of creating the space for other men and women, who feel what I feel to say so. I hope that we can come together in some way to do something to stop the downward spiral that it feels like we are in.
Could our physical health get worse? I think we just saw that it could in a twinkling of an eye. Could the health of our communities get worse? You better believe it can when we have no infrastructure in place to feed, educate, make or produce locally. Could our mental, emotional and relational health worsen? Absolutely.
When everything is interconnected, interrelated and independent, then all it takes is one thing to change and everything is affected. When the foundation is strong because it is made up of healthy individuals who share the responsibility of each other and for their place, then people and communities can shift easily. But if there is no foundation because we are not healthy people and we bear no responsibility for each other and our places, then things will fall apart quickly.
Could it be too late to do something? Maybe, but even if it’s the eleventh hour and especially if it’s the eleventh hour, we can do what is right, good and true. With all our spirit, heart, mind and strength, we can dig in where we are and love ourselves and our neighbor, whether that neighbor be a creature or the creation where we live.
Last by night least, I think we need to create the space to read writers and thinkers, who have asked the questions that we need to ask, and have the wisdom that we need to listen to and save time. We don’t have time to try and figure this out for ourselves, and we don’t have to. We have been blessed with many amazing witnesses of truth like Wendell Berry, who can lead us out of our arrogance, ignorance and despair, and towards restoration.
Wendell Berry has helped to guide me out of my own arrogance, ignorance and despair because he helps me remember who I am and how I am naturally designed to be helper, healer, creator and transformer. I am linking this to The Pleasure’s of Eating by Wendell Berry and I invite you to join me in creating the space to think about who you are and how you are naturally designed to be a healthy human being, who can make a difference right here and right now. We need you now, more than ever to discover what you can do to practice resurrection in your life, in your relationships, and in your community.