The Sabbath rocks us and holds us
until we can remember who we are.
~ Wayne Muller

PROFILE

Wendell Berry (b.1934) is a recognized master of many literary genres: poetry, essays, short stories, and novels. As a lifelong farmer, he affirms that humans must learn to live in harmony with the natural rhythms of the earth or perish. Berry further believes that traditional values, such as Sabbath time and strong community ties, are essential for the survival of humankind.

One of the first books of poetry to draw me into writing with spirit was Berry’s A Timbered Choir: Sabbath Poems, especially the poem Whatever is Foreseen in Joy.  These poems emerged from Berry’s Sunday practice of walking his farm lands with grateful attention.  They take the reader into the quiet where the small glories of the earth and the blessing of all life become evident.

Some Wendell Berry quotations:

So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute…
live your approval to all you cannot understand…
Ask the questions that have no answers. …
Be joyful though you have considered all the facts….

There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places and desecrated places.

And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles,
no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey,
a journey of one inch,
very arduous and humbling and joyful,
by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet,
and learn to be at home.

CELEBRATING POETS OVER 70 – Sabbath Poems

Joy, Barbara Mercer

Sugaring,  Helen Vanier

The Shepherd & His Goat, Royal Craig

Winter’s Gift, Valerie Nielsen

Thoughts of Afterlife: Immortality, Barbara Feehrer

Thoughts in a Garden, Ursula Forrestal

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT – TIPS FOR WRITERS

Older writers can seek out opportunities to provide career guidance and mentoring for high school and university students.  Working with small writing groups of young people can help them carve out quiet time in their lives for reflecting on who they are and who they wish to become.  With regular writing outside of school assignments with a supportive group, adolescents and emerging adults can sometimes find their voice as well as uncover special talents for prose or poetry.

Writing Exercises

Ray McGinnis outlines many exercises in his 2005 book, Writing the Sacred: A Psalm-Inspired Path to Appreciating and Writing Sacred Poetry

For example, to write a psalm of wisdom we might begin with a list of 25 wise actions and 25 unwise actions and then complete sentences such as:”The first thing I notice about my wisdom list is…”, “The wisdom I practice in my life includes…”, and “I lose my way on the path to God when…”. Finally, we might consider opening a draft psalm with one of these lines: “Do not strive…”, “Unless…”, “Happy are you…”, “How good it is…”, or “With all my heart…”.

Similarly, McGinnis demonstrates how to write a psalm of creation, thanksgiving, praise, trust, and lament.

BOOK REVIEW by Marianne Vespry

Writing the Sacred Journey: The Art and Practice of Spiritual Memoir

Elizabeth J. Andrew     Boston: Skinner House books, 2005

A spiritual memoir “deals with the bedrock of human existence – why we are here, where we are going, and how we can comport ourselves with dignity along the way. . . [it] is a genre in which one’s life is written with particular attention paid to its mysteries. . . Spiritual memoirists write because writing brings them closer to the ineffable essence of life.” – from the Introduction.

If you are thinking of writing such a memoir, this book is for you. If you would like to write such a memoir, but know that it is beyond your skill, this book is for you. If “spiritual” doesn’t mean anything to you; if you got through life this far on a mixture of luck and pluck and cunning and help from friends or teacher or lovers, and you want to write about it so the grandkids will understand, this book is for you, too.   >>MORE

QUOTATIONS

Sabbath requires surrender.
If we only stop when we are finished with all our work,
we will never stop –
because our work is never completely done…
Sabbath dissolves the artificial urgency of our days,
because it liberates us from the need to be finished.
~ Wayne Muller

Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.
~ Lao-Tzu

 

With my castle-shadow photo from the medieval city of Toledo, I will say adieu,

Ellen