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(Un)common sense from Wendell Berry — Day 9 of 40 Days of Listening

We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it, we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.

- Wendell Berry (Farmer/Poet in Kentucky, b. 1934)

This is (un)common sense from a person who has committed his life to caring for a particular place (since 1965, Berry has lived and worked on the same small north-central Kentucky farm). His words resonate with the saying from Baba Dioum that we shared earlier in the 40 days:

“We won’t save places we don’t love. We can’t love places we don’t know. And we don’t know places we haven’t learned.”

Both of these sayings echo an even older saying from the TORAH, “YHWH took the human and put them in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it (to care for/serve it and to guard/protect it).” — Genesis 2:15

It is common sense that the world will take care of us if we take care of it, and yet, that sense has become more and more uncommon. Seriously, we have access to two-hour home delivery of pineapples that were grown in the Philippines.

We’ve created an “out of sight, out of mind” existence or economy (the word economy has Greek roots, translated literally it means “household management”). It’s designed to keep much of the process out of sight and mind because

a two-hour pineapple,

or this laptop I’m typing on,

or that phone in your Made in _____ pocket,

or that latte in a single use plastic-coated cup…

is made possible through exploitation — the opposite of care and love.

This is not a “for shame” message. This is simply being honest. And, honesty can be the birthplace of transformation.

Another birthplace of transformation is right outside the door. It could be the white pine in that park at the end of the street. Or the caw of the crows from the trees dotted with squirrel nests. Or the sound and smell of Mississippi when you sit and rest at her banks.

It’s time we see and mind again. We will not change these systems of exploitation overnight. We will change them moment by willing moment. We will change them by falling in love with this beautiful garden again.

We can begin today by simply taking a walk with open eyes and heart.

P.s., Your “falling in love with place” stories are welcome at Listening to Stories of Place: Potluck & Story Sharing on March 15th.

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