October 21, 2011: Let’s celebrate Wendell Berry!

Last night I went to a very special evening at the UU church in Harvard Square to hear two heroes of mine, Bill McKibben and Wendell Berry, talk about civil disobedience, Thoreau, mountain-top removal, the projected pipeline, et al.

The minister of that church, Fred Small, noted that such a stellar evening felt like listening to William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass! Small’s referencing those two abolitionists was particularly apt given our New England protestant church setting, the enormity of the issue being discussed, and the towering presence of those two men.

The seventy-seven-year old Berry had reluctantly left his farm in Kentucky and flown to Boston in order to receive the Howard Zinn “People Speak” Award, given by PEN New England. How do I know he was reluctant? Because he’d commented on his growing reluctance to leave home these days and the irony that he had to expend fossil fuels in order to speak out against fossil fuels!

Since I have sufficiently gushed about Bill McKibben in previous posts, I shall celebrate this national treasure this way:


When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

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