This week we took an agrarian prophet’s words to the garden. Wendell Berry, son of a farmer, owns at 125-acre pice of land near Port Royal, Kentucky. He earned a B.A. and M.A. at the University of Kentucky in English. He later attended Stanford University’s Creative Writing program and later taught the same program at his Alma Matter. He is most known for his agrarian fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. According to Berry, the good life includes sustainable agriculture, appropriate technologies, healthyrural communities, connection to place, the pleasures of good food, husbandry, good work, local economics, the miracle of life, fidelity, frugality, reverence, and the interconnectedness of life.
This week in the garden, we had a new visitor, Patty, who does not attend church with us but is connected to the justice work we do. Leslie, Patty, and I read from The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry. We walked to the garden and read the chapter entitled “People, Land, and Community.” We later discussed some of the comparisons Berry made between our relationship with the land and our marital relationships. Reading this chapter as we sat around our seedlings in the middle of the city, we listened to his words. We heard the sounds of rush hour traffic on the 101 Freeway nearby. We heard the black birds above us and the sounds of young adults getting out of school. We read. We gardened. We talked.
There is something sacred about reading Wendell Berry in the garden to our seedlings. The radishes grew before our eyes. Have you ever experienced silence in the middle of an highly populated urban area? We did. And it was beautiful.