Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

Category: Wendell Berry (Page 2 of 2)

May 24 — Health Requires Solitude

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt:

Mark 1:32-37

“That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!'”

More thoughts for meditation:

Throughout the written stories of Jesus we see that he continually makes an effort to find solitude. He is not a desert mystic who removes himself from community to seek solitude nor is he an over extroverted healer on his way to burnout. Instead, Jesus seems to have had some sort of rhythm that created a flow of give and take where he would regularly commune with the Creator and regularly heal the sick and teach his listeners. This must have been what allowed him to respond so beautifully to those around him.

Wendell Berry says this about what solitude gives us:

“…we enter solitude, in which we lose loneliness.


Only discord can come of the attempt to share solitude.


True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without

human obligation.


One’s inner voices become audible. One feels the attraction

of one’s most intimate sources.


In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives.

The more coherent one becomes within oneself as a creature,

the more fully one enters into the communion of all creatures.


One returns from solitude laden with the gifts of circumstance.”

Suggestions for action:

Think about Berry’s line, “In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives. The more coherent once becomes within oneself as a creature, the more fully one enters into the communion of all creatures.” In what ways are you responding clearly to the lives around you? In what ways are you unable to respond well? How are both of those answers connected to your practices of solitude and your coherence of what is going on within you?

May 23 — Health Requires One Another

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt:

John 11:38-44

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

More thoughts for meditation:

There are a lot of layers to be seen and heard in this story, but pay attention to Jesus’ instructions to the community and take a look at what happens. Lazarus is dead, he’s beyond hope, the community has sealed him into a space made for decomposing, smelly bodies. Jesus comes on the scene and with a simple prayer causes a dead man walk out of a tomb. Jesus is obviously capable of tending to and fulfilling all of Lazarus’ needs, but instead of doing everything himself, he asks/commands the community to involve themselves. His first instruction is: “Take away the stone.” Lazarus needs them to give him a passage way to escape death, to leave a place that has no life in it. Then after he raises Lazarus from death to life he says, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Lazarus needs the community to come close, he needs them to brave his bad odor and free him from what is keeping him in bondage because he is unable to do it alone.

This is a story about needing each other. The path of health and healing is a path we take together. We cannot experience resurrection alone, we need the power of Jesus and the power of community. We cannot be whole apart from the Creator, the creation and its creatures because our healing is not just for ourselves, it’s for the entire creation.

Wendell Berry says it beautifully:

“Good work finds the way between pride and despair.

It graces with health. It heals with grace.

By it, we lose loneliness:

we clasp the hands of those who go before us, and the hands of

those who come after us;


we enter the little circle of each other’s arms,

and the larger circle of lovers whose hands are joined in a dance,

and the larger circle of all creatures, passing in and out of life,

who move also in a dance, to a music so subtle and vast that no

ear hears it except in fragments.”

Suggestions for action:

Reflect on areas you may be trying to change or heal alone. Where can you invite Jesus to perform resurrection and where can you invite others to remove the stone and take off your grave clothes?

May 22 — What is Health?

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt:

1 Thessalonians 5:5-6

You’re sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. So let’s not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let’s keep our eyes open and be smart.

More thoughts for meditation:

Wendell Berry defines healing and health with the following words,

“The task of healing is to respect oneself as a creature, no more

and no less.


A creature is not a creator, and cannot be. There is only one

Creation, and we are its members.


To be creative is only to have health: to keep oneself fully alive

in the Creation, to keep the Creation fully alive in oneself, to see

the Creation anew, to welcome one’s part in it anew.”

These two writers are telling us that health is to be fully alive, to be continually filled with the growth and new life of Creation or the Creator and to be fully awake to our part within it all.

Health is not be be whole or perfect or unbroken, but it is to be aware and present, mending and growing, resurrecting and becoming new. It is to see ourselves as one creature in communion with an entire creation and its Creator.

Suggestions for action:

Pick a sentence or word from above that sticks out to you, close your eyes and let your imagination explore it. Maybe you want to see yourself as a son of Light or daughter of the Day. Maybe you want to meditate on Creation or Christ being fully alive within you and the healing that follows.

Try sitting with whatever image comes to mind and pray, “I want to be awake and alive.”

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