‘merican Mystic: Wendell Berry (b. 1934)

[A simple definition of a mystic is one who seeks to experience God or the Transcendent.  Many of the greatest mystics have shared some of those experiences through poetry.  This is one a series of posts to share a spiritual poem and several quotations that have to do with some of the great themes of mystical writers and saints.  Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver are just two of what I call ‘merican Mystics. Like mystics and poets, Berry finds nature to have a healing properties for what ails us.    Where possible, I have embedded a video rendition of the featured poem.  Your suggestions about other ‘merican Mystics are most welcome.]

wendell berry Pictures, Images and Photos

The Peace of Wild Things 

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of 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 for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


The cloud is free only to go with the wind. 
The rain is free only in falling.

If you don’t know where you’re from, 
you’ll have a hard time saying where you’re going.

And we pray, not for new earth or heaven, 
but to be quiet in heart, and in eye clear. 
What we need is here.

The past is our definition. 
We may strive, with good reason, 
to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, 
but we will escape it only by adding something better to it. 

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

[BOOKS: http://www.amazon.com/Wendell-Berry/e/B000AP9MQS/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3?qid=1328497781&sr=8-3%5D

[PHOTO by ejceller on photobucket.com]



About Paul Wharton

I am a cradle Catholic, a native West Virginian, and a priest since April 24, 1982. Spiritual Direction has made a tremendous difference in my life and I encourage people to try it out. My motto is "Progress not perfection." I am grateful that God has done for me what I could not do for myself.
This entry was posted in Quotations, Songs and Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to ‘merican Mystic: Wendell Berry (b. 1934)

  1. Kristen O'Sullivan Harrison says:

    Thanks for these

  2. Kristin Choate says:

    I love Wendell Berry. I actually got to meet him last July at a conference! Thanks for the post.

  3. Barbara Lilly says:


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