Those of you who visit here regularly know I am a wannabe poetry maven, however can never seem to pass “Poetry 101”. But Wendell Berry, I understand him. He is my favorite (which, my faithful tens of readers also know, I don’t use the word “favorite” lightly). This week, I discovered (via Englewood Review of Books) my hero poet recently released a new book, combining all his Sabbath poetry (my favorites of my favorite)—and some new additions!—into one collection. If I were sharing this with you in person, you would detect a near squeal in my voice. So, in honor of Wendell Berry’s, This Day: New and Collected Sabbath Poems, 1979-2012, I thought maybe we could savor together some Sabbath Poem love this morning…
Six days of work are spentSix days of work are spent To make a Sunday quiet That Sabbath may return. It comes in unconcern; We cannot earn or buy it. Suppose rest is not sent Or comes and goes unknown, The light, unseen, unshown. Suppose the day begins In wrath at circumstance, Or anger at one’s friends In vain self-innocence False to the very light, Breaking the sun in half, Or anger at oneself Whose controverting will Would have the sun stand still. The world is lost in loss Of patience; The old curse Returns, and is made worse As newly justified. In hopeless fret and fuss, In rage at worldly plight Creation is defied, All order is unpropped, All light and signing stopped.
–Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir: Sabbath Poems (1980—V)
This Day. Now. The Sabbath. It is our seventh day gift, continually given in quiet and unconcern, not earned nor bought. Simply given.
Have you ever considered the depth of blessing that comes with the Sabbath? Have I ever considered it? I have longed for it, I have bemoaned the lack of it, but I have not truly contemplated what eternal graces are being revealed through it.
Maybe this is why I so easily squander it.
And in my wasteful ignorance, I say to the Sabbath Giver, “I don’t need your blessing. I don’t need your rest.”
The world is lost in loss of patience…. The old curse returns. Creation defied. Order unpropped.
All light and signing stopped.
But wait! The Sabbath still comes to us. We can rejoice and be glad in it! Let our hearts rest and our wills be released. Go back to the beginning. Six days were spent so there could be a Sabbath. And the Sabbath remains. It is still given.
Since the beginning, it is still given.
This Day. Now. The Sabbath—let us, each one, rest in our seventh day gift, continuing in and passing on His blessing for all creation.