Some Words of Wisdom from Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry

My purpose is a language that can make us whole,

though mortal, ignorant, and small.

The world is whole beyond human knowing.

The body’s life is its own,

untouched by the little clockwork of explanation.

(from “Some Further Words” in Given: Poems by Wendell Berry)

Well, I’ve done it now.

In the past 9 posts, I’ve published as a 9-part poem my spiritual autobiography (beginning here).  I’m left wondering if it was the right thing to do.

It seems so raw, so stark, so undeveloped.  Like an unborn child not ready for the light of day, unable to breathe in the fresh air the world has to offer.

I’m left to wonder if in an effort to explain my pain I have violated some sanctity of life – my own and my family’s.  Is there not value in leaving some parts of life “untouched by the little clockwork of explanation”?

On the other hand, it could be that the doubt I’m having stems from the shame of “being Bipolar”.  Maybe the throbbing sensation I’m having in my gut now is more the hurt that comes from opening the wounds for healing.

I have no doubt this autobiographical poem needs a lot of work.  Now it’s like dry bones in a desert, waiting for a gust of the Spirit to come along and breathe life into it.

I’ll leave it up for now, present it to my writer’s group tonight, and decide where to go from there.

I would be interested in hearing from those of you who have read it (or parts of it).  Has this poem helped you know something in the world a little better?  How can I make it better?

(photo of Wendell Berry from Jodi Brownfield in ageless beauty)

4 thoughts on “Some Words of Wisdom from Wendell Berry

  1. Well, by now I think you know how I feel about your decision to lay out the unvarnished truth of your experience. I don’t feel qualified to judge it on its technical merits. I would only say that the overwhelming value in writing about an illness that so many share is huge, especially when it’s told by someone who has found, and is continuing to find, his way through. I don’t know if we’ll ever truly be completely comfortable talking about diseases of the mind. Maybe it’s because there is still so much to be learned. We often fear what we don’t understand. Even though progress has been made, there is still so much to know. As with so many issues we humans deal with though, there is great comfort when someone confirms that we are not alone.

  2. When one considers the words of the soul, what is “right” and what is “wrong”? If you focus specifically on the way telling your story might impact your and your family’s life, consider the fact that for too long we have relegated social/emotional/psychological/spiritual issues to the shadows and then society gets blindsided when one or all of those issues jumps out at us. No, they are always here and until we start bringing them out into the light of day, with all the confusion and questions that come along, nothing will get better. You just shed a layer of skin in order to grow another few emotional feet, my friend. May you take comfort in that, and in the fact that anything telling this story could “do” to you or your family has already happened…

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